Kolkata:Batting great V.V.S. Laxman Wednesday said improvement of Team India's overseas performance was non-negotiable, and called for 'smart preparation' among other steps to fuel India's quest for regaining the top Test team spot.
Delivering the Mansur Ali Kahn Pataudi lecture here, Laxman who fashioned India's greatest turnaround, said the coming from behind victory against Australia in 2001 renewed the team's sense of belief.
"At the start of my career with the Indian team, we didn't necessarily believe that we could compete on an even footing with some of the bigger teams, especially overseas.
"But all that changed after our victory, 13 years ago at the Eden Gardens, here in Kolkata. Yes, it was achieved at home, but the manner in which we came back from the dead to defeat Australia, instilled a renewed sense of belief," said Laxman, whose epical 281 in the match has acquired a legendary status.
Describing the series against Australia as a huge turning point in the history of Indian cricket, Laxman credited the then coach John Wright and an "aggressive captain" Sourav Ganguly for playing a large part in the transformation.
"It is no coincidence that India began to travel better post-2001. We won Test matches in Zimbabwe, England, the West Indies and Australia in the next three years - apart from in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan - and no longer did we turn up in Australia or South Africa to merely make up the numbers," he said.
"It is imperative that we prepare for overseas visits with diligence and intelligence. Performances at home cannot be devalued, but I can say from experience that India's victories overseas have given me the greatest satisfaction.
"As a team, we must strive to be consistently successful when we travel away from the subcontinent," said Laxman calling for substituting "extensive preparation with smart preparation".
"As we seek to return to the top of the Test rankings, it therefore, becomes non-negotiable that we improve our performances away from home," he said.
The former cricketer also harped on the need to develop infrastructure including turf pitches, well-tended grassy outfields and practice nets to build up the fielding skills of budding cricketers.
"As Indian cricket moves ahead, we need to build on the structures that can expand the sport base and include rural India.
"If we provide the right opportunities, then talent can express itself from all parts of the country. No serious practitioner of cricket in India should feel let down by the lack of opportunities or facilities," he added.