VVS Laxman needs mental conditioning to score big when his team is not under pressure. Yes, you read it right.
After scoring his 17th Test century and a record fifth at Eden Gardens on Tuesday, the stylish batsman from Hyderabad said he had sessions with mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who has worked with the India team in the past, focusing on non-crisis situations."We tried various strategies about how to get the best out of me especially when I am in a situation where the team is not under a lot of pressure," said Laxman after play on Tuesday.
The standard of the opposition seems to matter too. Laxman has scored 2279 runs against Australia in 25 Tests but has never been that successful against lesser opponents like Bangladesh or Zimbabwe
He is yet to get a century against England. Apart from that, however, Laxman has almost unfailingly put up his hand to be counted upon when India are in dire straits. But Tuesday wasn't one of those days.
Not having scored a century for almost 15 months was bothering VVS, especially with a tour of Australia coming up. There were match-deciding innings, against Australia, South Africa and the West Indies, but no centuries. And he remembered that. "Definitely it was a relief to get a hundred. The last hundred was against Sri Lanka at P Sara where the team was under tremendous pressure," said Laxman.
He scored an unbeaten 103 in the last innings of that match against Sri Lanka in August 2010 to guide India to a five-wicket win and draw the series.
"Luckily, in this Test match, (Virender) Sehwag and Gautam (Gambhir) gave us a good start and obviously Rahul (Dravid) and Sachin (Tendulkar) had a good partnership. When I went in to bat, the position wasn't very challenging but it was important for us to build a partnership," Laxman said.
"Even though I had some valuable 50s under my belt, it's always satisfying to get a hundred."
That it came at his favourite hunting ground only made it more satisfying. "It is a very special ground, definitely a very, very special ground," he said.