Cricket India Down Under

Reliving India vs Australia rivalry Episode 1: VVS Laxman’s 281 at Eden Gardens

You must have heard about the story of ‘Roy Of The Rovers‘. It is a British Comic Strip about the life of a fictional footballer named Roy Race who was an exceptionally gifted player. The stock media phrase “real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff” is often used by football writers, commentators and fans when describing displays of great skill, or surprising results that go against the odds, in reference to the dramatic storylines that were the strip’s trademark.

This is at least what Google says.

Roy Of The Rovers – VVS Of The Eden

VVS Laxman's knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan's memory. 
VVS Laxman’s knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory.

Roy Of the Rovers was purely based on fantasy – What about real-life? Who is fit for the tag? Who is capable of producing surprising results that go against the odds? For a generation, it was VVS Laxman. A player who defied all the odds and made the impossible possible so many times.

However, the right-handed Hyderabadi batsman will always be remembered for one particular inning. VVS Laxman’s knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory.

It was one man taking on the best bowling lineup at that time with the equations, well, not so simple.

What was so special about the inning?

“If 167 changed the way I viewed cricket, 281 altered the cricket world’s perception of India,” said VVS Laxman in one of his interviews to Wisden India.

It was the 2nd test match of Border Gavaskar trophy in 2001. India were 1-0 down in the series and a lot of people were on the backs of Indian cricketers including the former Indian captain bemoaning the downfall of Indian cricket.

The 2nd test match was at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Australia won the toss and elected to bat. Australia posted a total of 445 in the first innings. India’s reply was not so great and the visitors bundled them out for 171. VVS Laxman made a fighting 59, however, the rest of the Indian batting lineup could not face the wrath of Glenn McGrath.

India was forced to follow-on.

It needed a miracle from here for India to scruff out a draw let alone win it and what followed, as they say, is history. VVS Laxman was sent up the order at No. 3 in 2nd innings. It proved to be a masterstroke. He joined hands with none other than Rahul Dravid to save India from getting doomed.

They batted the whole Day 4 and made a 376 runs partnership. VVS Laxman was a poetry in motion. He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy. VVS Laxman made 281 while Dravid got run out on 180.

He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy.
He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy.

It was what you call ‘Roy Of The Rovers’ stuff. Long on,  Mid-wicket, Covers – You name it, Laxman hit them in every part of the ground.

India declared at 657/7 and gave Australia a total of 383 to chase. Harbhajan Singh’s excellent piece of bowling on the final day proved just too much for the Aussies. They eventually bailed out for 212 handing India a memorable victory by 171 runs.

It is no exaggeration to say that this match, and day 4 in particular, changed the entire complexion of Indian cricket. The Indian side was reeling from the betting scandal, and a crushing defeat under a new captain might have put a generation off Test cricket.

Day 4 of the second test match was arguably the most pivotal day in the history of Indian cricket. This match can clearly define a before and after periods in Indian cricket. Things were never the same after the 4th day.

Eden Gardens might cherish Sourav Ganguly more than other players but it will forever be remembered for witnessing VVS Laxman’s special 281.

An innings that ended Australia’s 16-match world record winning streak. An innings that humbled the Aussies.

You must have heard about the story of ‘Roy Of The Rovers‘. It is a British Comic Strip about the life of a fictional footballer named Roy Race who was an exceptionally gifted player. The stock media phrase “real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff” is often used by football writers, commentators and fans when describing displays of great skill, or surprising results that go against the odds, in reference to the dramatic storylines that were the strip’s trademark.

This is at least what Google says.

Roy Of The Rovers – VVS Of The Eden

VVS Laxman's knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan's memory. 
VVS Laxman’s knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory.

Roy Of the Rovers was purely based on fantasy – What about real-life? Who is fit for the tag? Who is capable of producing surprising results that go against the odds? For a generation, it was VVS Laxman. A player who defied all the odds and made the impossible possible so many times.

However, the right-handed Hyderabadi batsman will always be remembered for one particular inning. VVS Laxman’s knock of 281 at Eden Gardens will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory.

It was one man taking on the best bowling lineup at that time with the equations, well, not so simple.

What was so special about the inning?

“If 167 changed the way I viewed cricket, 281 altered the cricket world’s perception of India,” said VVS Laxman in one of his interviews to Wisden India.

It was the 2nd test match of Border Gavaskar trophy in 2001. India were 1-0 down in the series and a lot of people were on the backs of Indian cricketers including the former Indian captain bemoaning the downfall of Indian cricket.

The 2nd test match was at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Australia won the toss and elected to bat. Australia posted a total of 445 in the first innings. India’s reply was not so great and the visitors bundled them out for 171. VVS Laxman made a fighting 59, however, the rest of the Indian batting lineup could not face the wrath of Glenn McGrath.

India was forced to follow-on.

It needed a miracle from here for India to scruff out a draw let alone win it and what followed, as they say, is history. VVS Laxman was sent up the order at No. 3 in 2nd innings. It proved to be a masterstroke. He joined hands with none other than Rahul Dravid to save India from getting doomed.

They batted the whole Day 4 and made a 376 runs partnership. VVS Laxman was a poetry in motion. He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy. VVS Laxman made 281 while Dravid got run out on 180.

He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy.
He hit 44 boundaries and had them Aussies jumping for mercy.

It was what you call ‘Roy Of The Rovers’ stuff. Long on,  Mid-wicket, Covers – You name it, Laxman hit them in every part of the ground.

India declared at 657/7 and gave Australia a total of 383 to chase. Harbhajan Singh’s excellent piece of bowling on the final day proved just too much for the Aussies. They eventually bailed out for 212 handing India a memorable victory by 171 runs.

It is no exaggeration to say that this match, and day 4 in particular, changed the entire complexion of Indian cricket. The Indian side was reeling from the betting scandal, and a crushing defeat under a new captain might have put a generation off Test cricket.

Day 4 of the second test match was arguably the most pivotal day in the history of Indian cricket. This match can clearly define a before and after periods in Indian cricket. Things were never the same after the 4th day.

Eden Gardens might cherish Sourav Ganguly more than other players but it will forever be remembered for witnessing VVS Laxman’s special 281.

An innings that ended Australia’s 16-match world record winning streak. An innings that humbled the Aussies.

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Gourav Pilania is the Head of Content at ThinkQuant. He is also a guest writer for India Today, Sportskeeda, BlastingNews, and SportsCafe. He can be followed on twitter @pilania_gourav.

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