'He was just as good as Sachin Tendulkar': Former Australia spinner names India batsman who played him 'splendidly'
Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar is perhaps the most complete batsman across eras. His records speak volume of his achievement, but when it came to batting, Tendulkar hardly had any flaws. How else do you explain a 17-year-old young batsman scoring centuries in England, South Africa and Australia within the first few years of his international career while the rest of his teammates struggled to get going.
Tendulkar has an incredible record against all opponents. He had a particular liking against Australia, a team he has scored most of his Test runs against – 3630 at an average of 55, including 11 centuries and 16 fifties. His battles against one of the greatest leg-spinners of all time, Shane Warne, was the stuff of legends, although he thrived equally well against the other spinners of the country.
When Tendulkar played his cricket, Australia cricket primarily had three major spinners in Warne, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg. While Tendulkar had his share of success against Warne and MacGill, he always took a fondness towards Hogg's bowling. Everytime Hogg came on to bowl to Tendulkar, the former India batsman made it a point to go after him and not allow him to settle.
Hogg, who dismissed Tendulkar only once in his career, explained that while Tendulkar was all class, there was another India batsman from the same era who played him equally well, and that was none other than VVS Laxman. One of India's finest players of spin, Laxman had a fabulous record against Australia too, with Hogg recalling bowling to him in the Boxing Day Test between India and Australia in 2007.
"VVS Laxman… he was not so much Tendulkar but VVS Laxman but he played me sensationally. I've got a young Indian friend whom I would pull out of school when I would go on a tour and just bowl to him to warm-up. He used to love VVS Laxman. VVS, he was just as good as Tendulkar against me. Very hard to bowl to… just the way he played me off the backfoot is a memory and a lesson I'd never forget," Hogg told former England fast bowler Steve Harmison on his YouTube Show 'Test of Time'.
Laxman did not get a big score in either innings of the Test match but during his innings of 26 and 42, the former India batsman showed tremendous application, while the rest of the Indian batsman failed to put up a big score in the second innings as Australia won the game by 337 runs, with Hogg claiming four wickets in the match – 2/82 and 2/51. He also scored 17 and 35 not out with the bat.