Ganguly: Laxman’s 281 in Eden saved my career

Shaken by the match-fixing scandal, Indian cricket was going through a turbulent time at the start of the 21st century when Ganguly took charge of the team.

Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and former Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan release an autobiography on former cricketer VVS Laxman '281 and Beyond', in Kolkata.   -  pti

VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia may be part of the cricketing folklore but former India skipper Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday said the knock actually ‘saved his career’

Shaken by the match-fixing scandal, Indian cricket was going through a turbulent time at the start of the 21st century when Ganguly took charge of the team.

Trailing 0-1 after the loss in Mumbai, India was looking down the barrel and was asked to follow-on in the Kolkata Test but Laxman’s 281, along with and Rahul Dravid’s 180 in a 376-run fifth wicket partnership, set the tone for a famous 171-run win.

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The win also halted the Steve Waugh-led side’s record 16 consecutive victories, giving a new direction to the Ganguly-led India.

So when the Hyderabadi batsman chose to write his autobiography, ‘281 and Beyond’, the title of the book was a no-brainer. But Ganguly was a tad disappointed with the name, he said in a lighter vein.

“I also texted him a month back but he didn’t reply,” Ganguly said at the Kolkata leg of the book launch.

“I told him it was not the apt title... It should have been ‘281 and beyond and that saved Sourav Ganguly’s career’. I strongly opposed the title because if he had not scored 281, we would have lost the Test and I would not have been captain again,” Ganguly said.

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Despite having a successful career in Tests, Laxman’s limited overs career failed to take off as he played only 86 ODIs, and was dropped from the South Africa-bound India’s 2003 World Cup.

Reflecting on the omission, Ganguly said “maybe it was a mistake“.

“Laxman was a player who could have done well in all formats. In hindsight, maybe it was a mistake. As a captain, you take decisions and things happen which may not be right or wrong,” he said.