Satisfying to get a hundred after a long gap: Laxman
Relieved at getting a Test hundred after 16 matches, VVS Laxman agreed that there is something about his relationship with Eden Gardens, but added that Tuesday's innings against the West Indies was not that challenging.
India made merry on a flat Eden track, amassing 631 for 7 declared, with centuries coming from the blades of Rahul Dravid (119), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (144) and Laxman's unbeaten 176, on day two of the second Test.
This was Laxman's 17th century, after a gap of 15 months, his last (103 not out) coming against Sri Lanka in August 2010.
"I have always enjoyed batting at the Eden Gardens. Not only batting, all the Tests I played here I really enjoyed playing here. It's a great ground with great history. Even as there were not many spectators in the Test, people of Kolkata make it special. It's a special ground for all of us," Laxman said after his fifth century at the venue.
"It was a relief to get a hundred. The last one was against Sri Lanka at P Sara Oval in the third Test, where the team was under tremendous pressure. After that I played knocks in pressure situations," Laxman added.
'It was important to get a big score'
Laxman, who scored a career-best 281 not out at the venue against Australia in 2001, said when he went out to bat, at 205 for three, things were a lot easier.
"Luckily in this Test (Virender) Sehwag and (Gautam) Gambhir gave us a good start. Obviously, Rahul and Sachin (Tendulkar) too had a good partnership. So when I went in to bat the position was not very challenging."
"But it was important for us to build a partnership; that's what Rahul and I tried to do. Seeing the nature of the wicket, where it deteriorates on the third and fourth day, it was important to get a big score in the first innings. The stylish Hyderabadi said it was pleasing to get to the three-figure mark."
"It was satisfying to get a hundred after a long gap. Even though I've a few fifties under my belt, it's always satisfying when you get a hundred," he said.
'It was important to declare and bowl at the West Indies'
India made a post-tea declaration with Laxman 24 shy of a third double century, but the batsman said he had suggested to the team think-tank to do so.
"The light was deteriorating, especially after MS (Dhoni) got out. That was the reason we wanted to bowl at least 20 overs this evening. So that was the reason we declared."
"When we came after tea, the strategy was to bat five to six overs. But after the third light dropped, I passed on the message to the dressing room that it was important to declare and bowl at the West Indies," he said.
'The wicket is already turning'
Laxman hoped that his unbeaten century would help the team win the Test for an unassailable 2-0 lead.
"I am not one who rates my innings. Any knock which you contribute to the team is always good. Hope this knock will help the team win the game. The one in a winning cause will always be more valuable. The wicket is already turning and there is bounce for the bowlers. Hopefully our bowlers can bowl in the right areas and we can win the game."
Known for bailing India out of difficult situations, Laxman thanked former mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton for bringing the best out of him.
"That's one of the challenges which I have. Especially with Paddy Upton, who was our mental conditioner, we tried various strategies, especially how to get the best out of me when the team is not in a good position."
"It feels good that probably this is for the first time after a long time where the team was not in a challenging and difficult position and I got a hundred."
'Dhoni puts bowlers under pressure right from the word go'
His 224-run seventh-wicket stand with Dhoni put India in the driver's seat, and Laxman said batting with the skipper made the task easier.
"When we needed quick runs it was easy for me. I needed just to rotate the strike and give Dhoni as much strike as possible. He is definitely a big hitter than me. It's always great to watch Dhoni from the other end. He is a brilliant batsman and puts bowlers under pressure right from the word go."
On Dhoni's big hitting, Laxman said, "Whenever he hits a six he says that he didn't connect the ball but easily clears the boundary (laughs)! In fact, we had a similar partnership and remained unbeaten in the last Test here against South Africa (in February 2010)."
"His knock of 281 in the memorable 2001 Test continues to inspire the batsman.It's always a great feeling playing at the Eden. When I come here all of you remind me of the knock here in 2001 Test. Definitely that gives a lot of inspiration to me and to all the guys who were involved and worked in that game."
'All of us dream of winning the series in Australia'
Laxman, who had a troubled back, pulled a muscle during his unbeaten century but said he is perfectly fine.
"Everything is fine. I just cramped after playing that shot. But I am quite happy with the way my back pulled on especially after a long innings."
"I am really thankful to the physio and the trainer. Especially after the South Africa series I really worked hard on my fitness. It's great that my back has pulled on well."
He expressed hope of the team realizing their dream of winning the upcoming series in Australia, beginning December 26.
"Australia tour is very important and all of us dream of winning the series in Australia. Hopefully we can realise the dream this time. I am sure the two practice games are quite good. The BCCI should be complimented. Initially it was just one practice and they added one more," he said.