He played many match-winning knocks during his illustrious career, but his famous 281-run innings at Eden Gardens against Australia exactly 18 years ago, still makes former Indian batsman VVS Laxman feel proud of the effort. In a match played from 11-15th March 2001, when India overcame a follow-on helped by the monumental efforts of the Hyderabadi superstar and Rahul Dravid's 180 to turn on the tables on the Aussies, is etched in every cricket lover's memory.
Laxman took the occasion today to pay tribute to one of the greatest Test matches ever played saying that he was fortunate enough to be a part of it.
"18 years ago #OnThisDay, I had the good fortune of playing my part in a memorable Test match victory against Australia at the Eden Gardens. Was a complete team effort, and a test match victory I am very proud to have been a part of": tweeted Laxman.
18 years ago #OnThisDay ,I had the good fortune of playing my part in a memorable Test match victory against Australia at the Eden Gardens. Was a complete team effort, and a test match victory I am very proud to have been a part of. pic.twitter.com/bAg9xUe3oK— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) March 14, 2019
His then-skipper Sourav Ganguly who went on to lead the Indian cricket Renaissance replied to Laxman's tweet terming the Kolkata epic the best ever Test match that he had ever been part of.
"The best ever test match I have played in": replied Ganguly.
The best ever test match I have played in— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) March 14, 2019
Last year Laxman had told reporters during the release of his autobiography '281 and Beyond': "281 is definitely a very memorable knock and a match for me, that Kolkata Test match and the series itself. But, 167 gave me the confidence that I can perform at the highest level."
"Because the situation we were in, and the conditions, it was quite challenging condition and also one of the best bowling line ups in world cricket.
"281 (against Australia in 2001) was a significant achievement as far as I am concerned because the situation we were in (that Test match). And also I was not fit enough to play that Test match. Hemang Badani was there in the physio room when I walked into (former physio) Andrew Leipus, who actually I feel because of him I was able to play the Test match," Laxman recalled at the Mumbai launch of his book '281 and Beyond', co-authored by R Kaushik.
Laxman said that his partner and former India batsman Rahul Dravid constantly motivated him through their partnership.
Dravid scored a 180 in the second innings after the hosts were given a follow-on by Australia. India eventually went on to win the Test match by 171 runs and later the series 2-1.
"At the first place (sic), I was not going to the play the Test match and Andrew made me fit to take the field. It was a great opportunity for myself to go and just play my natural game.
"So that Test match was an important Test match, because I didn't make runs in the first Test match (in Mumbai) and as it turned out I played my natural game, played on the merit of the ball, didn't really think about what happened in the past or what's going to happen.
"Credit to Rahul (Dravid) the way he kept motivating me at the other end and playing such a fantastic knock. But that partnership with Rahul was so important," Laxman reminisced, in presence of cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.
(With PTI inputs)