Happy Birthday: Laxman, Gary Player, Mark Hughes

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(Clockwise): Gary Player, Mark Hughes and VVS Laxman.

Known for his historic knock of 281 against Australia in 2001, the career of VVS Laxman, who turns 42 today, signifies a lot more than that.

Considered one of the best batsmen India has ever produced in Test cricket, Laxman was a member of the ‘Great Indian Batting Quartet’ along with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, who took Indian batting to great heights in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Considered an underachiever until his life changed forever in March 2001 with a magnificent 281 in Kolkata when India looked set to go 0-2 down to Australia. It was at that time the highest Test score by an Indian.

Lax repeatedly saved his best for the Aussies and became just the second Indian to score more than 2,000 runs against Australia in 2008. He announced his retirement in August 2012.

More sporting birthdays on this day:

1935: Gary Player, retired golfing legend, who won nine majors between 1961 and 1978 (81).

1963: Mark Hughes, Welsh former footballer, who is the current manager of Stoke City in the Premier League (53).

1988: Masahiro Tanaka, Japanese baseball player, who is a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees (28).

1991: Jiang Yuyuan, Chinese retired gymnast, who won Olympic team gold Beijing 2008 (25).

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On this day: All Blacks make history

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New Zealand’s dominance in rugby on the world stage resulted in a first on this day last year.

The All Blacks made history by becoming the first team to defend their Rugby World Cup title and the first to win for a third time as they beat Australia in the final at Twickenham.

After taking a 21-3 lead, New Zealand saw the Wallabies fight back to get within four points, but Dan Carter put over a crucial drop from 40 metres before slotting home a penalty kick to put the score out of reach.

It was a fairytale finish for Carter, who played his final game for New Zealand, as did legend Richie McCaw, who became the first All Blacks captain to lift the World Cup on foreign soil.

More memorable events on this day:

1908: The fourth Olympic Games come to an end in London.

1987: India’s Chetan Sharma claims the first hat-trick in the Cricket World Cup with the dismissal of three New Zealand batsmen at Nagpur.

1999: Mika Hakkinen wins the 50th Formula One championship.

2007: Ronald Koeman leaves PSV Eindhoven to take over as manager of Valencia.

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Happy Birthday: Van Basten, Irwin, Rivers

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Any list of the greatest footballers of all-time worth its salt has to include the Dutchman, who was a major force on the field during his brief, but spectacular career.

The former forward, who played for Ajax, AC Milan and the Netherlands national team, was known for his goalscoring ability – finding the back of the net 300 times.

Turning 52 today, he earned the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1988, 1989 and 1992, and was also named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992.

Representing the Netherlands, Van Basten won the Euro 88 title and was named the player of the tournament for his five goals, including his famous volley against the Soviet Union in the final.

He played his final game at the young age of 28 due to an injury, but went on to patrol the touchline as a coach for Ajax and the Dutch national team.

More sport star birthdays on this day:

1951: Nick Saban, American football coach for the University of Alabama with five national championships (65).

1961: Doc Rivers, American basketball coach for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and former Coach of the Year (56).

1963: Dunga, Brazil World Cup winner and former coach of the national team (53).

1965: Denis Irwin, the joint most successful Irish footballer in history and former Man United player (51).

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