The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav faith helped Laxman
- Nobody can stop improving, says Hyderabad middle-order batsman

Chandigarh, Oct. 18: There are good reasons for Sourav Ganguly being credited with consistently backing youngsters in his three-and-a-half years as the Team India captain. What has been overlooked is that he has also been keeping faith in a number of senior pros who don’t have superstar status — a case in point being V.V.S. Laxman.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Sourav took the initiative in scripting the dasher-from-Hyderabad’s return to the ODI squad. The captain’s argument was simple: Laxman averaged 58-plus when world champions Australia last played in India (2000-2001) and, with the Ricky Ponting-led team featuring in the forthcoming tri-series, it made sense to bring him back.

The national selectors went along and, so, Laxman figures in the XIV for the first three matches of the tri-series.

“I’m happy to be back but, at the moment, I’m focussed on the Mohali Test... We have a fight on our hands and I’ll think of the ODIs once we’re through with this game,” Laxman remarked this evening.

Laxman, of course, hasn’t played in any ODI after the New Year’s Day match (his 51st) in Christchurch and, expectedly, being overlooked for the World Cup hurts most. The selectors opted for the “younger and fitter” Dinesh Mongia. Only, the latter hardly made the most of the many opportunities and should only blame himself.

Incidentally, Laxman was ‘compensated’ by being given the India A captaincy for the West Indies tour. As luck would have it, back spasms kept bothering him and, consequently, he even had to miss the tri-series in Dhaka (which followed the World Cup).

“Surgery wasn’t required, but I did complete an extensive rehab programme... Moreover, the fitness-specific camp in Bangalore (in August) proved beneficial... Today, I’m batting well and, really, it’s a matter of capitalising on that,” Laxman pointed out.

Asked whether he was aware the selectors haven’t always been happy with his manner of rotating the strike and his fielding, Laxman said: “Look, I believe absolutely nobody can stop improving... That’s been part of my philosophy... If there’s something to learn from criticism, I’ve tried to learn...”

Skills apart, Laxman’s attitude has made him the player he is. As long that doesn’t change, we should be watching more of him. Laxman turns 29 on November 1.

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