VVS Laxman: India's 2nd Innings Man
If you are an Indian cricket fan and you see god in Sachin every time he strides to the batting crease, you are not at fault—the man is a legend and continues to build on it.
Similarly, if you think it's Diwali as long as Sehwag is batting, well, your heart is surely in the right place.
And if you believe that making Dhoni the Indian captain was a masterstroke from selectors, your applause is absolutely justified.
If you are an Indian cricket fan, you must thank selectors for respecting the stand that the man we call Very, Very Special took and letting him be. Pushed into opening, he failed often and hit a masterful 167 at Sydney in 2000 in a series that saw most Indian batsmen finding it impossible to answer questions posed by a lethal Aussie attack.
Soon after, he put his career on the line, telling the selectors that if he was going to play for India he would do so as a middle-order bat, not as an opener.
Daring selectors in India requires courage, exemplary courage: Ask Mohinder Amarnath, or Sunil Gavaskar, who too played a gutsy innings of 96 on a treacherous Bangalore wicket against Pak spinners in his last test.
While Sunny could dare them and hold his own, Jimmy suffered for reasons that often went beyond cricket and his own ability as an all-rounder.
And I am sure that the entire club of Indian cricket fans will rise up to applaud the selectors who let VVS have his way and occupy the No. 6 slot. Time and again, the man has brought the same exemplary courage into play and rescued India from an impossible situation—turned certain defeats into joyous triumphs.
But more than 7,000 test runs later, it's sad that he finds doubters galore after every triumphant essay. They questioned him after he scored that magical 281, having that Eden Gardens named after him. They asked, almost in unison, if he could repeat the feat.
He continued to answer them, batting with the tail to sometimes construct a respectable score, eke out a draw or create a victory like he did in the Mohali test against Australia earlier in the year.
The knives were out again after his twin failures in the Centurion test and he answered them in the elegant manner that he alone can claim to possess, compiling a defiant 96 when the leading lights had failed to counter the South African attack.
One can only hope that the critics and fans alike will stay silent now.
Let's applaud this man who has scripted some amazing second innings stories for the Indian cricket fan, and place our confidence in him, forever, irrespective of what happens at Kingsmead today.
And let's allow him an outburst or two, off and on; like we did when he screamed at Ojha and Raina in Mohali. After all, he did create another reason for the Indian cricket fan to celebrate.
Yes, whatever be the result today, let's celebrate the man.
Hope the Indian cricket team can give him a New Year gift that he so rightly deserves.
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