VVS Laxman was doing something on Friday that he has done so many times. He derives a lot of satisfaction from it, he said later, but it can't be something he loves because it means batting with the tail and losing a chance to score a century that could have been his had he batted higher in the order.
Having batted at No. 6 in the golden days of his career, Laxman is not new to this challenge and it was his defiant 79 that made the difference between Australia chasing 413 in the fourth innings and something way below that.
“I enjoy batting in such situations,” Laxman said. “It brings the best out of me, not only when I’m playing for India, but also when it comes to playing for Hyderabad. The satisfaction is bigger than getting a 100 if I succeed in taking the team to a good position batting with tail-enders.”
Laxman said the trick to this is thinking about the present rather than looking at what might happen. “I don’t look at the bigger picture. Today when I joined Irfan (Pathan), we concentrated on building a partnership. We needed it to bring the momentum back in our favour after Australia got those early wickets."
The humble soul he is, Laxman underplayed the role he played and highlighted the efforts of Pathan, MS Dhoni and of course RP Singh. “Dhoni curbed his natural instinct and hung in there, while the grit RP showed was commendable.”
He revealed that when RP joined him at 235 for eight and the lead well below the primary target of 400, their ploy was to take it as it came. “It’s a question of judging the wicket and who your partner is. Accordingly, we decided that I would face as much of Brett Lee as possible even if it meant missing a few singles. RP said he was comfortable against Shaun Tait and Stewart Clark, so that became our ploy.”
This partnership could well turn out to be the difference between victory and defeat, and if India do go on to win, a lion's share of the credit would naturally go to the bowlers. Laxman's role will probably once again be forgotten or at best remembered as one of the other factors. Drawing satisfaction from what he has done, he may not mind that though.