Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh has said VVS Laxman’s 281 run knock against his team at the Eden Garden in Kolkata in March 2001 is the greatest Test knock that he has ever seen. Australia had arrived in India on the back of 15 consecutive wins in Tests. The Steve Waugh-led side was looking nothing less than invincible. They started the tour on a thumping note by thrashing India by ten wickets in the first Test in Mumbai.
India were staring down the barrel in the second game at the Eden Gardens too. Australia made 445 in their first innings on the back of the Steve Waugh’s 110 and 97 from Matthew Hayden. For India, an young Harbhajan Singh stole the show by claiming 7 for 123 including the first hat-trick in the country’s Test history. In reply, India were all out for just 171. Australia were looking set to be marching towards a 17th straight Test win as India were reeling at 115 for 3 and then 232 for 4 after being asked to follow on.
This is when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid joined hands and the rest is history. For the next 104 overs, the pair sent the visitors on a leather hunt as they staged a miraculous fightback. By the time the partnership ended, Laxman and Dravid had shared a 376-run stand for the fifth wicket, and put their team 334 runs in front. Laxman was out for 281 which was the highest Test score by an Indian before it was broken by Virender Sehwag. India eventually set Australia a target of 384 and went on to win the match.
“The 280-odd he got against us in Calcutta is probably the best Test innings I have ever seen. We would have loved to have gotten him out, of course, but as a captain I just ran out of ideas and ran out of options. There wasn’t much left to do and he played Shane Warne and every bowler with contempt. That was an innings that was almost super-human, so you had to sort of sit back and admire it, and say ‘well done and you are too good for us today’,” Steve Waugh said in a video posted by cricket.com.au on Wednesday.
Steve Waugh further praised Laxman and hailed him as a phenomenal player, saying that the former India batsman liked to deliver on the big occasions. The Australia great also said that Laxman had a great eye for the ball and didn’t seem to have many weak spots.
“Against us, he was a phenomenal player, his record against the lesser teams wasn’t as much, so that showed that he liked the big occasions,” Steve Waugh said.
“The thing about Laxman was his timing and his placement and the ability to dominate the spinners, which normally players can do. He had a great eye (for the ball) and I can’t remember him having too many weaks and he was a player in one of the greatest batting line-ups of India,” Steve Waugh added.