11 February 2007

What about Very Very Special Laxman?

Indians' all over the world being the die hard cricket fanatics, have started writing up their Dream Team for the world cup, but very few people seem to be giving much space for VVS Laxman in their teams.Mukul Kesavan made a fleeting reference to VVS in his Dream list , which actually was the inspiration for digging out information on Laxman's ODI form and how he weighed against two other players in the present team.

Taking the last 25 ODIs of each player in consideration

Laxman brings to the table 734 runs at an average of 33.36 with 3 centuries and a 50. A not too impressive record, until you start looking at other people's average during their last 25 matches.
Ganguly despite the better games off late , still has an average of 32.82. Sehwag has a rather dismal average of 27.10 in his last 25 matches. So what is it that tips the scale for Sehwag and Ganguly? Why isn't Laxman considered for the ODI's?

There have been consistent statements that Laxman hasn't been fit or is not agile on the field, and doesn't rotate the strike all that much. He scores only in boundaries, and that is not good for one day matches etc. But it all sounds hollow when you compare it with the fielding abilities and fitness levels of Sehwag and Ganguly. Laxman perhaps is one of the best slip fielders in the Indian team. You wouldn't be able to say the same about any fielding position for Ganguly or Sehwag. So what is it that weighs against him going to the World Cup in West Indies?

1. Although this point would be considered as a compliment for a lot of players , it is Laxman's drawback as well as his strength. His game is right out of Hyderabadi tradition of style and silken touches. His aggression is brandishing the bat like a revolving door that strokes the ball away to leg side , from off stump. He doesn't show his aggression in a very physical manner. A steely customer , he inspires awe with his strokeplay but never strikes fear in the opposition. Ganguly and Sehwag though are prodigious talents , who can cut loose any time. They can take the game away from the opposition in a matter of overs. VVS perhaps can do it as well , but we have seen him struggle to increase the scoring rate multiple times.

2. Sehwag and Ganguly bring in another skill set that VVS doesn't possess. Both Sehwag and Ganguly are more than useful bowlers. In the tracks that West Indies have provided over the last few years, Sehwag and Ganguly have proved to be more than a handful.

3. Laxman doesn't have experience in playing ODI's in West Indies. Laxman in his entire ODI career has played only one match in West Indies and scored only 2 in that. Ganguly on the other hand has a healthy average of 51.60 from his 6 matches in the Windies and Sehwag was the pick of the Indian Batsmen in the Windies

Having said all this , there are a few reasons , why Laxman could still be a part of the ODI line up( I wish!!!)

-- The Indian Middle order seeming more brittle than ever, Laxman brings a stabilizing factor to the middle order.

-- With England achieving the improbable , Australia finally look like a team that can be beaten. Laxman with his golden run against the Aussies , would be the best bet when India meet the Aussies.

The board has done a lot of strange things over the years. So don't be surprised , if Laxman suddenly gets a peep-in from somewhere

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