VVS Laxman

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Personal information

Full name Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman
Born 1 November 1974 
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Batting Right-handed
Bowling Right-arm off spin
Role Batsman

International information

National side India (1996–2012)
Test debut (Cap 209) 20 November 1996 v South Africa
Last Test 24 January 2012 v Australia
ODI debut (Cap 112) 9 April 1998 v Zimbabwe
Last ODI 3 December 2006 v South Africa

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Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman ( born 1 November 1974) is a former Indian international cricketer and a current cricket commentator and pundit. A right-hand batsman known for his elegant stroke play, Laxman played as a middle-order batsman in Test cricket. Laxman is currently the Head of Cricket at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), and the head coach of the India Under-19 and India A teams.

Laxman is one of the few players to have played 100 Test matches, without ever appearing in a One-Day Cricket World Cup. Despite being a relatively slow runner between the wickets, Laxman compensated with his stroke play and fast scoring. In 2002, he was named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year.

In domestic cricket, Laxman represented Hyderabad. He also played for Lancashire in county cricket. He was also the captain of the Deccan Chargers team in the Indian Premier League during its inaugural season. Later, he played for the Kochi Tuskers IPL team. He is currently a mentor of the Sunrisers Hyderabad. He is popularly called as the ‘God of 4th Innings’ for his exploits.

In 2011, Laxman was awarded the Padma Shri award, India’s fourth highest civilian award. In 2012, Laxman retired from international cricket. 


Personal life

Laxman was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (present-day Telangana). Laxman’s parents are noted physicians Dr. Shantaram and Dr. Satyabhama of Vijayawada. Laxman is the great grand nephew of India’s second President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. 

Laxman studied at the Little Flower High School, Hyderabad. Though he joined a medical school for his undergraduate studies, Laxman chose cricket as a career.

He married G. R. Shailaja from Guntur, Computer Applications graduate, on 16 February 2004. They have two children – a son, Sarvajit and a daughter, Achinthya.


Playing style and position

Laxman is known for his fluid style, technically sound and aggressiveness. Sambil Bal of ESPN Crincinfo writes: “At his sublime best, VVS Laxman is a sight for the gods. Wristy, willowy and sinuous, he can match – sometimes even better – Tendulkar for strokeplay… [He] has the rare gift of being able to hit the same ball to either side.” He was equally skilled against both pace and spin, with great timing and outstanding ability to place the ball splitting the tightest field positions. Laxman was particularly skillful in using his wrists (reminiscent of his role model and fellow Hyderabadi, Mohammed Azharuddin) that allowed him to place the same ball to different areas of the field.

Standing tall and still at the crease, Laxman had a keen awareness of the off-stump and a polished ability to dispatch the bad ball. He plays with a high elbow and a steady stance and a textbook technique with natural elegance and flair. At the start of his career, Laxman was rated by Geoffrey Boycott as one of India’s best players of the hard (new) ball. However, Indian selectors played around with his batting positions, whenever India felt a lacuna regarding any batting number. He was forced to play in almost every position, including opening. Laxman found his home in the middle order, where he played most of his best innings, batting at numbers 3, 5 and 6. In a 2001 test against Australia and promoted to no. 3 in the second innings from his first innings position of 6, he scored 281 to take India to a huge lead after following on. Though Laxman was ideally suited for No. 3, Rahul Dravid was always preferred over him to bat at one-down, while Sachin Tendulkar was established at No. 4. As a result, Laxman played around 63 percent of his Test innings at No. 5 or 6. This meant that Laxman often found himself batting with tail-end batsmen, and is reflected in his final statistics, which show that he has a relatively high proportion of not out innings (34 of 225, or 15 per cent — for comparison, Tendulkar finished not out in around 10 per cent of his Test innings, and Dravid in 11 per cent). Nevertheless, Laxman batted particularly well with non-specialist lower-order batsmen, and was able, with their support, to save and win numerous matches for India (for example, the Mohali 2010 Test against Australia).


Youth career

Laxman made his Under-19 debut for India against Australia in February 1994. Batting at six, he made 88 in his debut innings against a bowling attack that consisted of Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, both of whom were making their debuts too. In the second game of the series, Laxman scored an unbeaten 151 in the first innings and 77 in the second innings to help his team register a 226-run victory. He continued his good form as he scored 36 and 84 in the third game to end up as the leading run-scorer of the series. The Test series was followed by a 3-match ODI series, where he managed scores of 24, 22 and 77. Later in August that year, the India Under-19 team toured England for 2 ODIs and 3 Test matches. Laxman disappointed in the ODIs with scores of 20 and 5. However, in the first Test he struck 119 in the first innings, but did not get to bat in the second innings as India cruised to a 9-wicket win. He made only 28 in the second match and 4 in the third.


Domestic career

Laxman made his first-class debut for Hyderabad against Punjab in the quarter-final match of 1992–93 Ranji Trophy season. He scored a duck in the first innings and 17 in the second. He played only one match for Hyderabad in the next season, before getting dropped. However, he was named in the South Zone squad for the 1994-95 Duleep Trophy in the back of his impressive outings for India Under-19s, but he failed to score big in the tournament. In the following Ranji Trophy season, Laxman notched up 532 runs from five matches at an average of 76 scoring two centuries. In the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy of 1995–96 season against West Zone, Laxman scored 47 in the first innings and a spectacular 121 in the second innings, sharing a 199-run partnership with skipper Rahul Dravid. He had another brilliant Ranji season the next year, as he piled 775 runs in just 11 innings at an average of 86 with 3 centuries and a best of 203* that came against Karnataka in the semi-final, which Hyderabad eventually lost. He was picked to play for Rest of India against Karnataka in the Irani Cup and also in the Board President’s XI squad against the touring Australian team. He played only three matches in 1996-97 Ranji season, where he scored three half-centuries, before getting picked for the Indian Test team against South Africa. 

After the tests he joined Lancashire as their overseas player in place of Brad Hodge. He played in five games of the county championship and showed glimpses of his sublime batting. In their final County Championship game of 2007, against Surrey at the Oval, Laxman scored a century in the second innings in which Lancashire were chasing 489 to win. They just missed out by 25 runs and subsequently lost the Championship to Sussex. His performance for Lancashire was good with 380 runs scored in 5 matches at an average of 54.28 with 2 centuries and 2 half-centuries

Laxman was supposed to replace Adam Voges for Nottinghamshire, but this move was vetoed by the BCCI due to the fact that there were players from the rival Indian Cricket League playing for Nottinghamshire.


Indian Premier League

Laxman was originally named as the Icon Player for his home franchise Deccan Chargers before the first season of the IPL. But he gave up the Icon Player status in a bid to allow his team spend a bigger purse at the auction. The Deccan Chargers bought him at the auction for $375,000 and named him the captain for the first season. However, Laxman dropped himself from the team halfway through the season, after the team had a horrendous run in the tournament. Adam Gilchrist took over as captain and led the side in the next two seasons as well; Laxman did score 155 runs from the 6 games that he played at an average of 31 and strike rate of 118. He batted at 3 in the first few games before opening the innings with Gilchrist in some matches where he found more success. His only half-century of the tournament (52 off 44) came against Royal Challengers Bangalore. He did score a couple more fluent innings that season including an unbeaten 37 from 26 balls against Mumbai Indians and 48 from 34 balls against Kings XI Punjab. However, he struggled with the bat in the next two seasons and sat out the tournament after playing only 5–6 matches.

At the mega-auction in 2011, Laxman was bought by the newly formed franchise of Kochi Tuskers Kerala for $400,000. This time, though, he was injured after the first three games and missed the rest of the season. In the first match against Royal Challengers, he opened the innings with Brendon McCullum and scored an attractive 36 from 29 deliveries. But, the Kochi franchise was terminated later that year and all the players of the team were put in the auction in 2012. However, Laxman, who had a base price of $400,000, found no buyers and he couldn’t participate in the 2012 edition of the tournament. Then in IPL 2013, he was appointed as a mentor for Sunrisers Hyderabad Team.


International career

  • Early years (1996–2000)

Laxman made his Test debut in 1996 against South Africa at Ahmedabad, scoring a fifty in the second innings of the match. In the second game at Kolkata, he scored 14 and 1. He played just one Test in the South African tour the following month and was unable to cement his place in a star-studded Indian middle order. Instead, he was asked to open the innings, starting in West Indies in 1997. At Kingston, he scored 64 in his first innings as opener. However, he averaged only 28 in that series playing as an opener. But intermittently continued in this role for nearly three years, but without any consistent success. In 1998 at Calcutta, he scored 95 against Australia opening the innings with Navjot Sidhu who scored 97. India went on to win the match by an innings and 219 runs. Though he was selected in the Test squad that toured New Zealand in 1998, he did not get to play a single game as Ajay Jadeja was preferred over Laxman to open the innings with Sidhu. Laxman scored a duck on his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in the Pepsi Tri-Series in 1998. He had a horrible run in the ODIs in 1998 which resulted in him getting dropped from the ODI team for more than a year. Against Pakistan in 1999, he scored just 66 runs from two Tests, averaging a modest 16. In the first match of the Asian Test Championship later that year, Laxman scored 67 against Pakistan, but failed to score consistently, before getting dropped from the Test team as well. 

Laxman returned to playing first-class cricket in 1999 to regain his place in the national team. In the 1999–2000 season of Ranji Trophy, he broke the record for most runs in a Ranji season when he made 1415 runs, at an average of 108, in just 9 matches notching up eight hundreds – a record that still remains intact. His performance was rewarded when, in January 2000, he was recalled in the Indian squad for the Australian tour. He scored 167 in the third and final Test match at Sydney when the rest of the batsmen struggled to cope with Glenn McGrath’s destructive bowling, a rare high point for India in an otherwise disastrous tour. Despite this success against an attack containing both McGrath and Shane Warne, Laxman apparently decided that he would return to domestic cricket, rather than continue playing as opener, a role which he believed did not suit him. As a result, Laxman was out of the Test team for nearly a year. He was recalled in late 2000, and also found a spot in the side for the home series against Australia in 2001.

  • Golden series (2001 against Australia)

Laxman’s career changed dramatically in the 2001 home series against Australia. In the first Test at Mumbai, Laxman made 20 and 12, as the entire Indian batting line-up, with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar, capitulated, leading to a 10-wicket defeat. This was Australia’s 16th consecutive Test win and extended their own world record. 

In the next Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, however, Laxman produced a match-winning and series-defining performance. After scoring 59 in the first innings, Laxman shot to fame with an extraordinary knock of 281 in the second innings (following on) when under tremendous pressure and with Australia looking set for a crushing 17th win in a row. He broke Sunil Gavaskar‘s long standing Indian Test record score of 236*.This remained the highest ever by an Indian until it was eclipsed by Virender Sehwag’s triple ton against Pakistan in Multan in March 2004. The innings also contributed to a record partnership of 376 with Rahul Dravid who made 180 and together they survived the whole 4th day. Laxman’s performance was of enormous consequence: India had been on the brink of an innings defeat but went on to win the Test and the series, denying Steve Waugh’s conquest of the “final frontier”. This was only the third time in the history of cricket that a team had managed to win a Test after being forced to follow on. It has become one of the most celebrated tales of Indian cricket, and the innings is ranked the sixth best Test innings ever by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. At the time, the pitch was taking significant turn, and to negate Laxman’s free scoring, Australian leg spinner Shane Warne pitched his deliveries into the footmarks outside leg stump. However, such was Laxman’s play that he consistently drove the ball through long on for boundaries against the spin, something that is considered to be technically dangerous. When Warne attempted to stop Laxman from scoring by defensively stationing most of the fielders on the leg side (leg theory) and bowling outside leg stump, Laxman proceeded to skip down the pitch and drive Warne inside-out through the vacant off side, hitting through the line of a substantially turning ball. Warne later admitted that he was clueless as to how to stop Laxman.

Laxman went on to score 65 and 66 in the third and the final Test match at Chennai, which India won by 2 wickets and won the series 2–1. Laxman had great amount of success batting at No.3 in the ODI series that followed the Tests, as he scored 45, 51, 83, 11 and 101 in the five games, thus cementing his spot in the ODI line-up as well. In the Coca-Cola Tri-Series later that year in Sri Lanka, Laxman scored 212 runs in 7 matches with two fifties and a decent average of 36. 


Achievements and awards

  • Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, 2011. 
  • Arjuna Award, by the Government of India in recognition of his outstanding achievement in sports, 2001.
  • Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 2002.
  • He is one of the few cricketers to score the most centuries (3) in a single ODI series. 
  • His innings of 281 against Australia at Kolkata in 2001 was ranked sixth in Wisden’s list of 100 great Test innings in the history of the game.
  • He has the record of taking the most catches (12) by a non-wicketkeeper in a single ODI series. He shares this record with Allan Border. 
  • He along with Rahul Dravid share the world record for the highest partnership (376 Runs) in 3rd innings of a test match for any wicket during a winning cause.
  • Laxman is one of the six Indian test players in history to score 100 runs in a single session of a test match.
  • Laxman is the second Indian player to score 1000 or more runs at a single ground. He scored 1217 runs at an average of 110.63 at Eden gardens.
  • Only Indian to score 1000 runs at a single ground with an average more than 100.
  • One of only 3 international players (and the only Indian player) to make an unbeaten fifty in both innings of a Test on more than one occasion (the others being Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Steve Smith).
  • Laxman was awarded an honorary doctorate degree on 4 February 2015 by Teri University, New Delhi.

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