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Do-or-die series for Laxman

VVS should be a worried man as he prepares for a critical series of his career, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 18:06 IST

The line-up for the 2003 Cricket World Cup had created quite a furore in the country. How could a raw batsman in Dinesh Mongia replace the iconic figure of VVS Laxman?

The Selectors’ move after a collective failure against New Zealand in New Zealand was construed a grave injustice to the Hyderabadi. Had Laxman been from a more volatile region, perhaps fans would have burnt the effigies of the then selection committee members, and the coach!

Three years later, the chance is that there will be no such outbursts of anguish and dismay if VVS Laxman fails to perform well against a below-par, injury-ridden England, forcing Chappell to once again start looking towards the future.

In the present scheme of things, Sachin and Dravid cannot be touched and Sehwag can always revert to middle order if his opening blues continue. Yuvraj Singh has proved his mettle in Pakistan and Dravid has declared that there will no longer be a non-specialist opener partnering Sehwag. So logically, VVS Laxman is on the shakiest ground. More so, if Kaif or Raina prove their worth in the Nagpur Test.

But the elegant Hyderabadi should still consider himself lucky playing England at home. Especially after Karachi encounter, when his stumps were flying in all directions in both the innings. Perfect advertisement for Dartfish broadcast technology, it was however a spectacle the wristy player would love to forget.

Ideally, a top-order batsman always has better average at home compared to abroad. However,Laxman’s last four series at home have not exactly matched the high standards people have come to expect of him. In fact, one of India’s best batsmen abroad, Laxman is a sitting duck at home.

Australia in India in 2004

Laxman was one of India’s big hopes against a rampaging Australian team. Just like in 2001 series when VVS, helped by some mesmerizing spells of Harbhajan, had turned the series on its head.

But this time round, the Kangaroos seemed to have sorted out his poor footwork. Laxman’sscores of 31, 3, 4, 13 and 2 meant the series was over after just three Tests.

Though Laxman did show his class in the low-scoring encounter at Mumbai with a match-winning knock of 69, but it was too little, and too late.The series was lost one-two.