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Eden hopeful of another VVS show

India's perennial crisis man returns to the Eden Gardens against an unchanged backdrop, where the masses urge the Little Master to oblige them with a dazzling 100th century. But make no mistake, Eden is VVS Laxman's turf. Somshuvra Laha reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 14, 2011 00:32 IST
Somshuvra Laha

India's perennial crisis man returns to the Eden Gardens against an unchanged backdrop, where the masses urge the Little Master to oblige them with a dazzling 100th century. But make no mistake, Eden is VVS Laxman's turf.

The facade of the BC Roy Club House is a glowing reminder of the artistry Laxman put on show to captivate the minds of 80,000 fans.

The start of it

On the back of four grinding seasons, that epic innings of 281 had cemented Laxman's position as the darling of Eden.

Since then, he has gone on to become the highest run-getter here, and only the second batsman after Sunil Gavaskar to score more than 1000 runs at a venue. Four of Laxman's 16 centuries have come at Eden, where he averages 94.63, second only to another Hyderabad batsman and former captain Mohammed Azharuddin, who averaged an unbelievable 107.50.

For such audacious statistics, Laxman would have liked to have a better conversion rate when it came to churning out centuries. Batting at No. 5 or No. 6 with tailenders for almost his entire career, however, has put paid to that.

But rarely has that dissuaded Laxman from being at his best when India were at their worst.

Like a year ago, when Laxman played a gritty 73 with Ishant Sharma in the last innings to bail India out of Australia's grasp in the first Test at Mohali. This year, he averages 35.40 in nine Tests, the lowest since 2004 when he had 32.06 to his name.

But even then he came good at the right moment to produce 85 and 87 in the second Test in Bridgetown in July to ward off the West Indies when India were trying to protect a 1-0 lead.

Getting him early

West Indies captain Darren Sammy knows that. “We also know he gets out early in the first innings and we can hope to put an end in the second innings very early.

“Maybe, I will be invisible and hold his bat as the bowler is bowling,” joked Sammy in the pre-match press briefing.

Fingers will be crossed though, in anticipation of another very, very special innings from a man who has scored centuries on his last two appearances here.

Laxman at Eden: Matches: 9, Runs: 1041, Centuries: 4, Highest Score: 281, Average: 94.63 .

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