After Batman, Superman and Spiderman, India’s own superhero came to the rescue for the umpteenth time as he carved out yet another match winning knock when all seemed lost. The highly under praised wristy right hander from Hyderabad played his fourth second innings special this year to ensure that India finished 2010 on top of the ICC ratings.
After a match winning 103 at Colombo, a fairytale partnership with Ishant at Mohali and a gritty match saving innings in Ahmedabad, Laxman stood up once again when it mattered the most, in perhaps what were the most difficult conditions of them all, at Durban.
After coming a cropper at Centurion, Laxman made a priceless 38 in the first innings and it required a stunning catch from Tsotsobe to end his innings. After the bowlers had put India ahead in the game, the top order failed once again and V.V.S. walked out to bat with the score reading 48/3. Tendulkar was dismissed soon after and India were feeling the heat.
Being the true competitor that he is, such situations bring out the best in Laxman, a fact showcased by his enviable second innings average. After the fall of Pujara and Dhoni, Laxman put on a crucial 70 run partnership with Zaheer and strangely enough the tailenders tend to bat better with Laxman at the other end. Not so strange if you consider the amount of confidence he puts in them. After the partnership Ishant at Mohali, he gladly second fiddle to Harbhajan at Ahmedabad and here he allowed Zaheer Khan to play his shots. He was unfortunate not to reach his century as he perished in the quest for quick runs but with Laxman, it often is the case of grabbing the headlines as the one who won the match rather than the one who scored a century.
Humble in victory and apologetic in failure, Laxman never fails to praise his partners for their contributions. He didn’t come out to field on Day 4 due to a bad back, the same back that had forced him to bat with a bye-runner at Colombo and Mohali but that didn’t deter him from leading India to historic wins.
Next time India are five down for 50 and Laxman is still at the crease – you just know what to expect!