July 05, 2020
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"Aussies play tough but my conviction paid off"

An elated V.V.S. Laxman speaks to Outlook about his setting India on the decisive course to victory. Excerpts:

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"Aussies play tough but my conviction paid off"
Both your centuries in Test cricket have come against the Australians...
Yes, that's just a coincidence. The fact that Australia has one of the best bowling attacks in modern cricket makes my effort all the more satisfying. I would reckon the conditions under which I could perform are what makes me happy at the end of the day.

Having surpassed Sunil Gavaskar's 236, you are India's highest run-getter in Tests. It must be a great feeling...
Yes, it is. Gavaskar is a legend and when one gets past a legend, it gives you pride. But I wouldn't like to be compared to him. I'm happy I could get runs because at the end of the day, people remember you by the number of runs scored. To be honest, I'm happy my runs contributed to India's fascinating 171-run win.

Were you looking to make a triple century?
To an extent, yes. But on the final day, our gameplan was to get quick runs and there was no time for records. I'm a team man and the bottomline is that your effort should finally benefit the team.

You scored your first century at the Sydney Cricket Ground last season. Did that knock help you prepare yourself mentally when you went out to bat at the Eden Gardens?
The Aussies are tough guys. You've to earn every run from them; hence the Sydney century toughened me up a lot. When I went out to bat after the follow-on, I'd obviously steeled myself. It's my conviction that paid off. The more we play against tough teams, the better we'll become.

How cordial were the Aussies on the field? What was the level of sledging?
They were wonderful, very sporting. It's wrong to brand them otherwise. They play the game tough but within rules. I batted for almost two-and-a-half days and not for a moment did they try to unsettle me by unfair means. In fact, they appreciated every time I cleared a milestone.

You justified your promotion to the No. 3 slot brilliantly. How comfortable are you in that position?
I've scored most of my runs for Hyderabad batting at No. 3. That's my first-choice batting position. But when you play for your country, one has to be ready to bat at any slot. I've even opened the innings but when the team management told me I'd bat at No. 3 in the second innings, I was delighted.

Effectively, you have displaced Rahul Dravid from that position...
Yes, it's an irony of sorts. Rahul's been a champion batsman at No. 3. He's had big scores for India batting at No. 3. But then the situation demanded that I bat at his place. I've played with Rahul for several years now. If I know him right, he'll be comfortable batting anywhere.
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