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|Laxman gunning for Shoaib Akhtar and Co|
Wednesday, February 11 2004 12:44 Hrs (IST)
"It is a season I am looking forward to. It will be highly challenging," Laxman said on his return from Australia where he cracked five centuries.
"I am not afraid of Shoaib Akhtar and I will play my natural game," he said.
Terming the Australia tour as a "very satisfying" despite the disappointments, he said almost every player had contributed to the team's success.
"It was not my batting alone but there was good contribution from other players as well which is very satisfactory. We fumbled in the tri-series finals and it was disappointing. But we lost to a better team and always have a chance to improve," said the player who would tie the marital knot with software professional Shailaja on Sunday.
Laxman, who scored two centuries in the Test series and three tons in the triangular One-day series, rated his centuries in the Adelaide Test against Australia and in the One-dayer against Zimbabwe as memorable since India had won on both occasions.
The right-handed batsman owed his good show in Australia to the effort he spent in improving his technique after he was dropped from India's World Cup squad.
"I had a good run this season but it stemmed out of my hard work during 1999-2000 when I was dropped from the World Cup squad."
"I worked hard with the coaches and computer analyst and improved certain grey areas. I think this really paid off during the (Australian) series," the 29-year-old said.
On his perfect understanding with Rahul Dravid and their record-breaking partnership during the series, Laxman said, "We know each other from our Under-14 cricket days and have a better understanding. Rahul is a very good player and associating with him in a record stand to register the first Test victory on Australian soil after a gap of 22 years was really a pleasant moment," he said.
Laxman said he was disappointed that India failed to win the Test series despite being in a position to do so.
"We came very close to winning but could not make it despite a good partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. Though I missed a double century it was by a very good ball from Gillespie," he said referring to the Sydney Test.
'It was the best ever Indian team to tour Australia'