Mumbai : Eclipsing several other great individual knocks, V V S Laxman’s masterly innings of 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata has been rated as the greatest Test performance of the last 50 years. The honour was accorded to the Hyderabad stylist’s fabulous series-turning knock after India trailed by 274 runs on the first innings, by his fellow-players, commentators and journalists in a poll published in the January issue of ESPN’s digital magazine the Cricket Monthly, a media release said. Laxman, promoted to no. 3 after his first innings’ 59 out of a team score of 171, came up with his magical innings and also added 376 runs for the fifth wicket with Rahul Dravid (180). In his tribute, one of seven by participants in the Test, leg spin legend Shane Warne recalls: “I was bowling in the footmarks and Laxman was hitting the same ball through cover or whipping it through midwicket. It was so hard to bowl then.”
Ricky Ponting remembers that “his work through the leg side in particular was a source of wonderment to many of us… Ultimately we bowled for near enough to two days at him without even looking like getting him out.” India teammate Zaheer Khan, also his room-mate, recalled how Laxman slept on the floor through the match because of a bad back, while Andrew Leipus, the then Indian physio, revealed the full extent of Laxman’s physical challenge. The surprising and controversial part of the top 50 list is that none of Sachin Tendulkar’s 51 Test hundreds have been considered worth making the list while David Gower’s feat of scoring 72 and 28 for England in the Ashes Test at Perth has got the 32nd rank. Tendulkar, often compared with Sir Don Bradman, had scored his maiden century, 119 not out, as a 17-year-old boy against England to rescue India at Manchester on his first tour to that country.