Farewell VVS Laxman (Best of Laxman's performance)

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51 vs South Africa (Ahmedabad, 1996):

When the 21-year-old Laxman walked out to bat on debut, the score read 82-4, trailing by 21 runs. Little did he realise this scene would play out many times over a long career. The wicket was crumbling, and India were struggling against Allan Donald, Fannie de Villiers and Paul Adams. They were soon 124-7, and the hostile crowd started pelting the South Africans with rocks and vegetables. Laxman’s boundaries calmed them. His fifty on debut gave India just 170 to defend. With Srinath taking 6-21, South Africa folded for 105.

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51 vs South Africa (Ahmedabad, 1996):
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59 & 281 vs Australia (Kolkata, 2001)

You’ve heard this story before. India were 275 runs behind. Defeat was certain. With Dravid out of form, Ganguly promoted Laxman to No. 3. Then Dravid joined Laxman. They batted the whole of Day 4, adding 376 runs. Batting records fell. Then some more batting records fell. Suddenly, India had an outside chance. Hat-trick hero Harbhajan took six wickets, Tendulkar provided three, and India completed the most extraordinary win.

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59 & 281 vs Australia (Kolkata, 2001)
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69 & 74 vs West Indies (Port of Spain, 2002)

India sniffed their first win in the Caribbean in 26 years. On an up-and-down wicket, they grabbed a 94-run lead but stumbled to 56-4 in the second knock. Ganguly and Laxman was all there was left. The Indian tail-end, suffering from a serious inferiority complex in this series, wasn’t expected to deliver. The duo added 149 of the finest runs after which, as expected, India collapsed from 205-4 to 218 all out. In the end, the 313-run target was just about enough for a historic win.

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69 & 74 vs West Indies (Port of Spain, 2002)
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148 & 32 vs Australia (Adelaide, 2003):

This game is remembered mostly for Rahul Dravid’s 231 and 72 which took India to a groundbreaking win. But it was Laxman, who set the game up with Dravid with a mammoth 303-run stand after India were 85-4 in response to Australia’s 556. In the second knock, his wristy flicks and drives soothed India’s tense nerves again as they chased down 233 for a win. But how often do we recall this match for Laxman’s effort instead of Dravid’s?

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148 & 32 vs Australia (Adelaide, 2003):
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69 vs Australia (Mumbai, 2004):

India had lost the series 0-2, and had pride to salvage in the final game at the Wankhede. The pitch was a minefield. India were bowled out on Day 1 for 104 but held Australia to 203. With the ball turning square, shooting along the surface, bouncing awkwardly, India were in for a tough time. With the openers gone cheaply, Laxman took on Australia’s rookie spinners and veteran pacers. His 69 proved to be the highest in the game. On the third evening, Australia, chasing 107, were shot out for 93.

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69 vs Australia (Mumbai, 2004):
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104 vs Sri Lanka (Ahmedabad, 2005):

97-5 is not the score the home team would want to be in on the first day of the deciding Test match. Laxman, renowned for batting with the tail, added 125 with Irfan Pathan, who made 82 batting at No. 8. Harbhajan took 7-62 and India grabbed a big lead, going on to win the Test by 259 runs, and the series 2-0.

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104 vs Sri Lanka (Ahmedabad, 2005):
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73 vs South Africa (Johannesburg, 2006):

This performance was near-identical to Perth 2008. India, on the verge of their first win on South African soil, were doddering at 148-7 in the second innings. It was a quick wicket. All India needed was a Laxman fifty, and for a tail-ender to hold on. Zaheer (37) was Laxman’s aide. They added 70 till Laxman fell. On Day 4, India’s bowlers delivered the win.

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73 vs South Africa (Johannesburg, 2006):
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79 vs Australia (Perth, 2008):

For good reason is this considered India’s greatest Test win. The Monkeygate incident at Sydney, injuries to some of India’s key players and a quick wicket at Perth meant the visiting side was expected to be rolled over. But against all odds, India were put on the path of a win. On Day 3, the game hinged on Laxman as he came in at 125-5. The lead was a slender 243. And he delivered a special knock. Adding 35 with Irfan Pathan, 75 with the off-colour Dhoni and 51 with RP Singh, Laxman gave India a huge 413 runs to defend. They scored a landmark win.

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79 vs Australia (Perth, 2008):
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76 & 124 vs New Zealand (Napier, 2009):

Despite Rahul Dravid’s 83 and Laxman’s 76, India gave the hosts a massive 314-run first innings lead. Following on, they weren’t doing badly but needed to bat out the last day to save the game. Gambhir’s slow 137 off 436 balls helped India. When Laxman went to bat, India needed to bat out 69 overs. His 124 saved India the game, and India’s eventual 1-0 win is their first Test series win in New Zealand since 1968.

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76 & 124 vs New Zealand (Napier, 2009):
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56 & 103* vs Sri Lanka (Colombo, 2010):

India were 62-4 chasing 257, needing to win this Test to draw the series and their No. 1 rank in Tests. Suraj Randiv had taken four out four on a turning track. A loss seemed certain. Laxman, batting with a back spasm and a runner, tamed Randiv and Mendis. With Tendulkar and then with Raina, he saw off the steep challenge.

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56 & 103* vs Sri Lanka (Colombo, 2010):
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73* vs Australia (Mohali, 2010)

India needed 92 runs when No. 10 Ishant Sharma " taking injections for his injured knee " joined Laxman. But Laxman had taken painkillers for a back spasm and batting with a runner. On a tricky wicket against a hostile pace attack that had smelt blood, India’s defeat was a matter of minutes. But Ishant blocked his end up while Laxman scorched boundaries through spread-out fields. An umpiring blunder nearly denied India, but it was Laxman’s day and the home team stole a one-wicket win with last-man Pragyan Ojha stealing the winning runs.

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73* vs Australia (Mohali, 2010)
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91 vs New Zealand, (Ahmedabad, 2010)

India were about to be embarrassed at home by a lesser-ranked Test side that was operating practically with two Test-class bowlers. The score was a ridiculous 15-5 and Laxman needed to bat out nearly four sessions with Harbhajan Singh and the tail. He somehow did it. A contentious LBW to Daniel Vettori deprived him of his hundred, but Harbhajan scored one himself and steered India to safety.

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91 vs New Zealand, (Ahmedabad, 2010)
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38 & 96 vs South Africa (Durban, 2010)

Test match which Laxman set up in the company of Zaheer Khan. They’d won India the Johannesburg Test and they did it again here. India, 148-7 in the second knock, stretched their fight against Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who had been tough to handle in helpful conditions. Laxman missed a well-deserved ton, but had done enough for a win in a low-scoring game.

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38 & 96 vs South Africa (Durban, 2010)
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85 & 87 vs West Indies (Barbados, 2011)

India had dug themselves a hole on the morning of the game. They were 38-4 in the first session when Laxman started his first rescue act of the game - 85. They fought back but needed another big knock from him in the second innings. And he delivered again. It was enough to save the game, but the hosts saved the game on the final day, courtesy bad light.

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85 & 87 vs West Indies (Barbados, 2011)
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