VVS Laxman releases book, shares ‘281’ stories

Sachin Tendulkar was among those present for the unveiling of Laxman's autobiography, 281 And Beyond, in Mumbai.

V. V. S. Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar unveil the former's autobiography, 281 and Beyond.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

It was one of those evenings when a book launch ceremony turned into a reunion. As V. V. S. Laxman unveiled his autobiography ‘281 And Beyond’ in presence of his former team-mates and mentors, it was a walk down memory lane for the assembled star cast.

With his team-mates Sachin Tendulkar, Ashish Nehra, Aakash Chopra, Rahul Sanghvi, Deep Dasgupta, Murali Karthik and Saba Karim in attendance, Laxman narrated stories that had been dressing-room secrets so far.

Sandeep Patil compared V. V. S. Laxman's batting style to that of the painting strokes of the late Maqbool Fida Hussain.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Tendulkar recalled meeting Laxman for the first time in Nottingham in 1995 along with Amol Muzumdar, while Sandeep Patil, who was Laxman’s coach at the India U-19 team, compared his ward’s batting style to the painting strokes of the late Maqbool Fida Hussain. “The very first day I figured out that he was a special talent and was god-gifted. For me, M. F. Hussain having a brush and a canvas and V. V. S. walking to bat is the same thing,” Patil said.

But the highlight of the evening was Tendulkar sharing anecdotes about Laxman. He remembered the South Africa tour of 1997, when Laxman broke his finger and was asked to fly back home from Johannesburg. “In those days, the dressing room was slightly different, and Laxman was sitting in one corner facing the wall and was trying to hide his face. I went to him, his eyes were red,” Sachin recollected. “I told him, ‘Laxman you are too good a player. Injuries will happen, this is not your first or last injury.’ He had shown lot of promise on that tour and was an integral part of the team. I genuinely wanted him to stay back.”

Recalling the two occasions when Tendulkar got angry with him for slow running between the wickets, Laxman also said that that 10-minute chat with Tendulkar in Johannesburg helped him return to the national team.

Talking about the title of his book, Laxman agreed that the knock of 281 against Australia in the second Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was a significant achievement in his career.

“I was concerned that I was not fit enough to play that Test match (in Kolkata),” he said. “Hemang Badani was there in the physio room, when I walked in to meet Andrew Leipus. Because of him I was able to play the Test match. Andrew made me fit to take the field. It was a great opportunity to go and just play my natural game. That Test match was important because I didn’t make runs in the first match (in Mumbai) and I played my natural game and didn’t really think about what happened in the past or what’s going to happen.”

V. V. S. Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar share dressing-room secrets from their playing days during the launch of Laxman's book 281 and Beyond.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

He also credited his batting partner, Rahul Dravid, who made 180. “Credit to Rahul for the way he kept motivating me at the other end and for playing such a fantastic knock. But that partnership with Rahul was so important,” he said. “It transformed the mindset of the entire team, because it was against a very tough opposition (Australia). From that situation, we were able to go on and win the match and the series, it is something which is ingrained in all our minds.”

Laxman admitted that ‘281 never ever put pressure’ on him. “The first four years, I was trying to fulfill the expectations of everyone. 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 pressure on me…”