VVS Laxman is fondly remembered as the man who rose to challenges and delivered when the situation demanded it the most. In the hour of need, when India were staring defeat in the face, Laxman would rise and win games almost single-handedly.
The ever dependable batsman produced his best in times of crisis. Every time India’s batting line-up stuttered, all eyes would be on the tall, well-built Hyderabadi to avert defeat and lift his team to safety.
Here is a list of VVS Laxman’s greatest efforts when his team needed it most – and his top innings which will be remembered for a long time to come.
281 vs AUSTRALIA at KOLKATA, 2001
This was not only Laxman’s best, but also one of the greatest knocks in the chronicles of the game. This was the innings which made the world stand up and notice this immensely talented cricketer.
Australia enforced the follow-on after being 274 runs ahead of India, and then Aussie skipper Steve Waugh and his team expected to end the game in four days. But it wasn’t going to be so easy.
Laxman walked in at No.3 and produced his best performance ever at Eden Gardens. He smashed Shane Warne and the other Australian bowlers mercilessly all over the ground.
With Rahul Dravid as the second fiddle, the two stitched together a partnership of 376, taking India’s total past 600. On the final day, the hosts declared and bowled Australia out, winning by a margin of 171 runs.
148 vs AUSTRALIA at ADELAIDE, 2003
Having put up 556 on the board after winning the toss and opting to bat first, the hosts seemed to have had the upper hand in the game. When India were reduced to a mere 85/4, it looked like the match was already out of India’s hands.
Dravid and Laxman, though, rose to the occasion, calmly getting the scoreboard ticking. By the time, Laxman was dismissed on 148 – a knock full of his quintessential shots – India were in a very good position.
Eventually, it was the partnership between Dravid and Laxman that made the difference as the Kangaroos were cheaply bowled out in their second inninga, and India won the match.
73 vs SOUTH AFRICA at JOHANNESBURG, 2006
India had never before won a Test in South Africa, but this time, they were determined to script history. An inspired team rose to the challenge and bowled out the hosts for 84 in the first innings, taking a lead of 165.
India needed a challenging score in the second innings, but were reduced to 41/3. Once again, Laxman took matters into his own hands and nothing from the opposition could affect his batting rhythm. He put 70 runs on the board with tail-ender Zaheer Khan by his side.
By the time Laxman was dismissed with India’s score at 218, the visitors had a good lead. India ended up winning the game by 123 runs.
103 vs SRI LANKA at COLOMBO, 2010
Sri Lankan off-spinner Suraj Randiv looked dangerous on a fourth-innings wicket with India chasing 257 for a win. The visitors were 53/3 on the final day, with Sachin Tendulkar and Ishant Sharma at the crease.
The latter could not take the pressure for long, and Laxman out came to bat. Along with Tendulkar, Laxman smartly dealt with the Sri Lankan bowlers, destroying their hopes of a win.
Even after Tendulkar departed following a half-century, Laxman continued to fight it out alone. In the end, he recorded a memorable hundred and India returned home victorious.
73* vs AUSTRALIA at MOHALI, 2010
This score might not look phenomenal, but when you discuss it in the circumstances of the game, you realise how important it was. Chasing 216 to win, India were reduced to 124/8 after losing wickets at regular intervals.
This time again, Laxman was the lone sentinel standing. Owing to back pain, he had batted at No.10 in the first innings and his back continued to disturb him on the big day.
The second fiddle was Ishant Sharma, along with whom Laxman commenced a terrific counter-attack, leaving the visitors shell-shocked. Ishant fell when India needed 11 runs to win.
Pragyan Ojha came to the crease, supported Laxman well and India clinched a dramatic one-wicket win.