The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laxman eyes revenge vs NZ

New Delhi: India batsman V.V.S. Laxman, bitterly disappointed at his World Cup omission, plans to redeem himself in the October home series against New Zealand and Australia.

“The World Cup omission was a big shock, the most depressing moment in my cricket career,” Laxman, 28, said from Hyderabad on Friday.

“It took me some time to recover, but I want to get back into the groove quickly and get big hundreds.”

The stylish right-hander became an instant celebrity in 2001 after scoring a memorable 281, the highest individual Test score by an Indian. It also set India off to a historic comeback home series victory over Australia.

That helped Laxman seal a Test spot, but he was left out of the World Cup side, probably because of poor fielding and the inability to accelerate in the slog overs.

Left-hander Dinesh Mongia, chosen ahead of Laxman, failed to impress, although India still reached the final.

But Laxman said he was confident he could regain a regular one-day berth. “I averaged around 35 last year, and I am very optimistic about my one-day future.”

He will get his opportunity in both versions when India, after a rare break of nearly six months, play two Tests against New Zealand in October and a one-day tri-series also featuring the world champions.

Laxman has aggregated 2687 runs from his 44 Tests at a decent average of just over 41, but has managed a moderate 1250 runs in 51 one-dayers at 27.17.

Laxman said India would be out for revenge when they face New Zealand in October.

“We have to give New Zealand a good beating after we lost there on pitches which were not fit for international cricket,” he said, referring to India’s Test and one-day series defeats before the World Cup on under-prepared pitches.

He said a strong showing would also be the ideal preparation for the tough tour of Australia from November.

“A good Test and one-day series will raise our confidence,” he said. “When we travel to Australia, our confidence should be high, that is important.”

Laxman said he has fully recovered from a side injury he sustained in March and has also worked on his batting.

A natural stroke-player, Laxman’s footwork came under scrutiny in New Zealand after he made just 27 runs in four Test innings and 39 from three one-dayers.

“Everyone struggled in New Zealand,” he said. “But I have worked on certain things and hope they work in match situations.”

Laxman said it was sometimes frustrating to bat as low as No. 6 in Tests with only tail-enders for support.

“One can’t consistently score big knocks (at No. 6), I have to admit,” said Laxman, who however has no plan to reverse his decision not to open the batting again.

Laxman produced his 281 batting at No. 3, but a subsequent poor run enabled Rahul Dravid to regain his favoured batting spot.

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