The second and final set of Indian players not included in the ODI squad left Australia on Wednesday morning. The three who checked out for Melbourne before the rest of the squad left were Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Not expected to feature again on Australian shores, the trio had a few fans seeking autographs and photographs as they had breakfast. In a hurry, they were seen checking whether everything had been loaded into the bus taking them to the airport. Squeezing out some time, Laxman spoke to HT.
How do you assess your performance in this series?
I’m happy to have scored runs with a certain degree of consistency because it was important to do that on this tour. It was pleasing to have been able to bat through some tough situations where I managed to bail the team out of trouble.
How come you invariably seem to be at your best against Australia?
<b1>Wish I knew! I don’t know why, but I’ve always done well against them, right from my under-19 days. To have done well against the best team in the world makes it really special.
What technical adjustments did you make? Was the focus on playing straighter and cutting down on shots on the on side?
Yes. If you noticed, I played a lot of straight drives and on-drives. The idea was to play as straight as possible and within the ‘V’. Technically, I was trying to play the ball late. The ball comes on to the bat a lot more than it does in other places, and instead of going towards it, I waited for it. Playing close to the body was also something I concentrated on.
There is competition for places in the side and you’re not getting younger. How do you keep yourself going?
I keep telling myself that I can still contribute to the best interests of my country. To me, that’s the biggest motivation. I’m not really concerned about other people and prefer to think about my game. Having said that, it’s good that youngsters are coming up. It’s good for Indian cricket, because it means we have good bench strength.
Despite doing well, you always seem to be under trial. How tough is it?
It hurts sometimes, because when you get a chance to play for your country the only thing that comes to your mind is going out and doing your best. It’s disappointing when, even after doing well, you are still considered uncertain. Hopefully, my performance in the last three series, including this one, will put to rest all doubts.
You batted well in England too, but the big innings didn’t come. How significant was the century in Sydney?
I was unable to convert the starts in England and it was disappointing. I got three fifties and yet the big one kept eluding me until I got a century against Pakistan at Eden Gardens.
But I drew satisfaction that I succeeded in playing according to the situation and helped the team come out of trouble. The century in Sydney was important because of the way I scored it and that it opened up the game after Australia got a big total.
Which do you treasure more, the century or the 79 in the second innings at Perth?
The manner in which I scored my runs and dominated the attack in Sydney was important, but considering the situation, the innings in Perth was more satisfying. I had two valuable partnerships with M.S. Dhoni and R.P. Singh and that helped us gain the psychological boost of setting a target of over 400.
Does not being picked for the one-dayers still hurt?
I think I can perform in both forms of the game. It’s frustrating to miss out on a chance to play for the country specially when you are batting well. If I keep scoring runs, the selectors will be able to see what I am doing.
Will you be getting up early to watch the one-day games?
It’s not a question of doing it now. Even when I was young, I used to get up early and watch the games in Australia. I will follow the team’s performance and I’m sure we will do well.