Laxman keen to do well in England Tests

Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:Indian batsman Vangipurappu Venkat Sai Laxman plans to end a frustrating six-month spell without an international match by improving his modest record in England in the three-Test series starting on July 19.

While the famed batting trio of skipper Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly look to end their final England tour on a high, the batsman who played India's greatest Test innings is under pressure just to make it into the starting line-up.

The wristy right-hander is competing for a middle order slot with the younger Yuvraj Singh, who hit two vital innings to guide India to a 2-1 one-day series win over South Africa in Northern Ireland last week.

"It is quite disappointing honestly, but it is not in my control," Laxman told Reuters.

"What's in my control is to go out and get runs whenever I'm given a chance. "I'll be focussing on that."

Laxman, 32, was discarded from the one-day side in 2005 due to his inability to accelerate the run rate in the closing overs, poor fielding and running between wickets.

He has not played for India since the Test tour of South Africa in January, where he hit two fifties in the series which the hosts rallied to clinch 2-1.

His hopes of gaining some useful batting practice in Bangladesh in May were dented when he was not selected in the two-Test series after the team management opted to play five specialist bowlers.

"It was frustrating because I thought I did reasonably well in South Africa," he said. "But then the situation was such that the team management had to take a call on five bowlers.

"In a team game someone misses out, it was unfortunate that I did in Bangladesh," he added ahead of his departure for England.

Rated among the finest Indian batsmen, Laxman has played 80 Tests, scoring almost 5,000 runs at an average of 42.41.

His greatest moment came in 2001 when he produced an epic 281, then the highest Indian Test score, at Eden Gardens to spark a comeback 2-1 home series win over Australia.

Laxman said he had learnt to cope with the stop-start nature of his international career.

"I'm quite experienced in these things, so I'll go out there with a positive mindset," he said.

A good showing in England would be vital for him as India are scheduled to play 10 Tests in the next eight months, including series against Pakistan and Australia.

"We have a good season ahead," he said. "But I'm taking it series by series.

"Playing in England is special," he said. "I firmly believe we can win the series this time around."

India drew 1-1 on their previous tour in 2002 when Dravid hit three centuries. Laxman, on his first trip, made 199 runs at 39.80.

Laxman, among the few batsmen who played champion Australian leg spinner Shane Warne with assurance, said the young England left-armer Monty Panesar would provide a challenge.

Panesar grabbed 23 wickets in the 3-0 home series win over West Indies last month.

"He has definitely improved a lot," he said. "It is the manner in which he is getting wickets, not just the numbers."


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