The VVS in Laxman’s name reads as Vangipurappu Venkata Sai, a tougue twister by any standards. But Sunil Gavaskar interprets it as ‘VERY VERY SPECIAL’. Born on 1 November 1974 at Hyderabad, he is a right-handed middle order batsman and an occasional right arm off break bowler. Laxman made his test debut for India in the first test against South Africa at Ahmedabad in 1996-7. He made his one-day debut against Zimbabwe at Cuttack in the Pepsi Triangular series of 1997-8. Laxman was chosen Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2002.
Laxman has till date played 56 tests, scoring 3637 runs at an average of 44.35 with 7 hundreds and a highest score of 281. In 82 one-day internationals, he has scored 2266 runs at an average of 31.47 with 6 hundreds and a highest score of 131.
A very talented player, in the mould of his idol Mohammad Azharuddin, Laxman can play delightful strokes on both sides of the field. He seems to be more inclined to play the off-drives of pace bowlers and the delectable on-drives – the most difficult shot to play in the game of cricket - off spinners who pitch the ball on middle and leg stumps. When he gets going, there is no better sight in cricket, and he even punishes top class pace bowlers like McGrath and Shoaib with his wristy flicks to mid-wicket.
Laxman played one of the finest innings played in over 100 years of cricket when he scored 281 in the Kolkatta test against Steve Waugh’s invincible ‘Wizards of Oz’ in 2001, to win the test match for India, along with Dravid, after being down in the dumps. He is enigmatic, however, and tends to throw away his wicket just when he seems to be set and going for a big one. With experience and age, he has shown signs of maturity and looks more assured in recent times. He was surprisingly dropped form the 2003 World Cup, but then came back with a roar in the series in Australia and Pakistan. Plagued by the bad form of his talented colleagues in the Indian team in the recent series, he has not been able to bat freely to score runs. One feels though that he is due for a big innings in the coming matches.