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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Laxman vs Australia

Just 13 hundreds and a little over 6000 runs at an average below 45 are not the statistics that can assure VVS Laxman a place amongst the all time greats of the game. That do not even place him against India's best. Tendulkar has twice the number of runs and thrice the number of centuries. Ganguly, surely an inferior test batsman has more runs to show than the stylish Hyderabadi. Gavaskar, Dravid, Vengsarkar, Azharuddin and Vishwanath would all be ahead of Laxman in any list of India's all time test greats. But what make him special are his sublime touch and his record against the World Champions.

Earlier today, he completed his 6th ton against Australia. That's about half of his total number of centuries. Against an overall career average of 45, his average against Australia is over 50, and by the time the current India-Australia series comes to a close, he should have finished with a career batting average of about 55 against Australia. Of his 6000 runs, one-third of them have been aggregated against the Aussies. What makes his record against the world's leading test team even more special is the fact that he has been more successful against them in their own backyard. Laxman has 4 hundreds and over 1000 runs against Australia in Australia.

While almost every other leading batter in the world has used the matches against the minnows to prop up their batting averages, Laxman's career average against Zimbabwe is below his career average and against Bangladesh about 20. He seems to relish the challenge of playing against the world's best, and it's fitting that he will be playing his 100th test against his favourite opposition. The Nagpur test will be a very, very special one indeed!

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