Former India batsman VVS Laxman believes it's not just the historic 281-run knock against Australia that defined him as a cricketer. According to the 44-year-old 'Very Very Special' batsman, there have been many knocks in his illustrious 16-year-long career that have made him feel even better. Laxman, who became India's most fearless batsman against a daunting Australian team, has rated the 167-run knock against the Kangaroos in Sydney on the top of his favourite knocks. Having opened the innings for India, Laxman scored his first international hundred against Australia at their backyard in 2000.
"From 1996 to 2000, I never had a hundred. I never ever felt I was able to establish myself in the Indian team. If I had not got that 167, probably I would not have got another chance to play. The fashion in which I got these runs and against quality bowling on a challenging wicket and tough conditions gave me the confidence," Laxman said at the release of his autobiography '281 and Beyond' in Hyderabad on Thursday.
"It removed doubts and apprehensions I had about my game. I started to feel that I belong to international cricket and that I can go out and perform against the best bowlers," he added.
In 2001, Laxman made headlines after he scored a knock of 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens. He established a record stand with Rahul Dravid to set up a remarkable victory for India after following on.
As expectations heaped upon him following the match-winning heroics in Kolkata, Laxman learnt how he could deal with it. "I learnt after the first 4 years of struggle at highest level that especially in our country you can't afford to fall into a trap. Everyone will have expectations. I never played game to fulfil expectations of others."
For Laxman, to give up as an opening batsman was the toughest decision that he made in his career. Laxman was included as an opener in the Indian team in 1996. He said he took it up as a challenge. But after being dropped in 2000, he realized his true potential and went back to play domestic cricket for Hyderabad to improve himself as a middle-order batsman.
"I told myself that I am going to lead the life as a first-class cricketer. I decided I will work hard but I will never ever open the batting. It was toughest decision because there was no guarantee of getting into playing XI of India," he said.
With the Indian batting line-up well decorated with batsmen like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly, Laxman cemented his place and went on to score 8781 runs for India in 134 Test matches. He scored 17 Test centuries, six of which came against Australia.
(With IANS inputs)