‘Laxman always wore a sunny smile at the crease but that covered a steely inside’

Amrit Mathur writes in a column in Hindustan Times that VVS Laxman always wore a sunny smile at the crease but that covered a steely inside, which helped him battle severe odds. Laxman’s batting at number 6 was always correct and cultured; he was an artist who manufactured strokes of supreme grace and charm.

“Incapable of playing a crude shot, Laxman was never rushed and such was his serenity, it looked he did not hit the ball, only guided it away to the boundary politely as if not wanting to offend the bowler he was punishing. What will we remember Laxman for? Surely for several high-quality innings, for giving dignity to the Indian middle-order and for his honourable conduct on the cricket field,” writes Mathur, adding that in 16 years of international cricket, Laxman did not sledge, did no drama and did not hurt anyone except the bowlers.

“Which is why he enjoys enormous goodwill among colleagues as well as with players he competed with,” adds Mathur.

Meanmwhile, India enter a hectic home season where its strongest flank on own soil — batting — will be under scrutiny, says a report in The Hindu, adding that the departure of Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman will surely leave the host with a less formidable line-up.

“The quality and experience of Dravid and Laxman proved great barrier for opposing sides. Now India has to rebuild. This is easier said than done since India struggled to find a worthy replacement for Sourav Ganguly in the middle-order, with Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina displaying flashes of brilliance but not consistency. Virat Kohli, though, finally pulled his weight in the Perth and Adelaide Tests of what was otherwise a disastrous Test series in Australia last season,” says the report, adding that with what could be demanding Test series at home against England and Australia looming this season, India will have to get its act right against the Kiwis.

“In this context, the first Test that begins here on August 23 assumes significance. How India approaches its batting order will be a pointer to the future,” adds the report.

According to a report in Indian Express, local hero VVS Laxman's retirement just ahead of the Test series against New Zealand beginning here on Thursday has lessened the general interest level among common people.

The Rajiv Gandhi stadium at Uppal wore a desolate look with little interest seen among the locals as Team India practised in the morning followed by the visitors' session in the afternoon. If the Hyderabad Cricket Association officials had earlier sounded unhappy for not being able to see Laxman one last time, the curator Y L Chandrashekhar too became emotional.

"We are all taken aback at his decision... He prepared so hard, slammed two centuries recently one being at the Gymkhana ground the wicket of which I had prepared... But we all are sad that he would not be playing here. He would have loved to play on this strip," Chandrashekhar said.