The 'Very Very Special' innings of 281 by VVS Laxman in Eden Gardens against Australia will be remembered forever. It is counted as one of the best Test innings ever. But Laxman recently revealed it would have never happened as he wasn't supposed to feature in that game.
"281 (against Australia in 2001) was a significant achievement as far as I am concerned because the situation we were in (that Test match). And also I was not fit enough to play that Test match. Hemang Badani was there in the physio room when I walked into (former physio) Andrew Leipus, who actually I feel because of him I was able to play the Test match," Laxman recalled at the Mumbai launch of his book '281 and Beyond', co-authored by R Kaushik.
Another man who played the helping part in that historic Test was Rahul Dravid. Dravid also struck an outstanding 180 in the second innings and helped the team to recover from follow-on enforced by Australia.
Laxman credited Rahul who motivated him to keep going despite being not fully fit. "At the first place, I was not going to the play the Test match and Andrew made me fit to take the field. It was a great opportunity for myself to go and just play my natural game.
"So that Test match was an important Test match, because I didn't make runs in the first Test match (in Mumbai) and as it turned out I played my natural game, played on the merit of the ball, didn't really think about what happened in the past or what's going to happen.
"Credit to Rahul (Dravid) the way he kept motivating me at the other end and playing such a fantastic knock. But that partnership with Rahul was so important," Laxman recollected.
But what made Laxman an international level cricketer was his innings against Australia in Sydney where he scored 167 runs.
"But having said that 281 never ever put pressure on me, because the first four years, while I was trying to fulfill the expectations of everyone, I forgot what I expected on my side (from me). And the tour to Australia in 1999-2000, changed that perception changed my perspective and approach towards the game.
"The 167 (in Sydney) was a defining moment as far as I am concerned because that gave me the confidence that I can go and play against the best, irrespective of whether I am playing in India or in their own backyard and I belong to the international level.
"(So) 281, actually didn't put any pressure on me, neither did I feel pressure when I walked out that people are expecting me to score 200 or 281, it doesn't happen that way," he said.
(WITH PTI INPUTS)