Vastavam web: Stylish batsman VVS Laxman’s epic 281 may be part of the cricketing folklore but former India skipper Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday said the knock actually ‘saved his career’. Shaken by the match-fixing scandal, Indian cricket was going through a turbulent time at the start of the 21st century when Sourav Ganguly took charge of the team. Trailing 0-1 after their loss in Mumbai, India were looking down the barrel and were asked to follow-on in the Kolkata Test but Laxman’s 281 and Rahul Dravid’s 180 in a 376-run fifth wicket partnership set the tone for an epic 171-run win.
“I strongly opposed the title because if he had not scored 281, we would have lost the Test and I would not have been captain again,” a modest Ganguly said. Despite having a successful career in Tests, Laxman’s limited overs career failed to take off as he played only 86 ODIs, and was dropped from the South-Africa-bound India’s 2003 World Cup. Reflecting on the omission, Ganguly said “maybe it was a mistake”.
“Laxman was a player who could have done well in all formats. In hindsight, maybe it was a mistake. As a captain, you take decisions and things happen which may not be right or wrong,” Ganguly said. “I told myself ‘I was among the lucky few who got this opportunity and I should not let it go’,” Laxman recalled. He scored a superb 102 against Australia in Gwalior and followed it up with three more centuries in the triangular series, involving Australia and Zimbabwe.Sharing more anecdotes from the epic Kolkata Test, Laxman said the Eden match taught them life lessons. “Everyone contributed in the Test. Even substitute Hemang Badani took a blinder fielding at forward short leg,” Laxman said.