Perth, Jan 14: VVS Laxman has been a Very Very Special batsman for India against the Australians. Be it in home conditions or facing the opposition in their own backyard, the Hyderabadi has always delivered. But those magical knocks have deserted the 37-year-old and is now under pressure to retain his place for the Adelaide Test after scoring a duck in the second innings of the ongoing third Test in Perth on Saturday.
Also read: Hope the nightmare continues for Australia: Laxman
During the current series, Laxman has scored only 102 runs in six innings (average 17) and 66 of those came in one visit to the crease in the second eassy of Sydney Test.
He started the tour in Melbourne with a two and one and was dismissed for two again in the first innings of Sydney Test. In the first hit of Perth Test he managed 31.
With the Indian batting failing big time, there have been calls for the removal of seniors and Laxman's name heads the list. Just before the start of the Perth game, former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said Rohit Sharma should come in place of Laxman. And on Friday, the great Sunil Gavaskar said it is now time to say goodbye to some of the seniors. However, Gavaskar did not hint at who should be axed.
Former captain Sourav Ganguly too wants India to find youngsters to replace the veterans.
"You cannot expect Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman to keep on repeating what they did at the Eden Gardens a decade ago. They were young then and are now nearing 40. I have always said the senior players should decide the timing of their retirement on their own."
"Dravid and Laxman will continue to score runs at home. However, Indias next series abroad will now be in 2013 so they have to make a mature decision," Ganguly said.
Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Laxman have been the mainstay of Indian batting for a very long time. Between the three they have over 35,000 Test runs with Tendulkar heading the all-time charts.
Laxman had scored 8697 runs (in 132 matches, before the start of Perth Test) at an average of 49.53 with 17 hundreds and 56 fifties.
Last November, Laxman hit an unbeaten 176 against the West Indies in Kolkata. But that was in home conditions. He had just two half tons to show in eight innings in England where the team was whitewashed 4-0 last year. Then the home series started against the West Indies and Laxman was back among runs.
India have lost six successive Tests overseas and are now heading towards seventh after the second day in Perth where they have to score 120 more to make Australia bat again.
The right-hander averages over 50 against Australia in Tests having scored 2381 runs in 28 matches (both at home and away). He has six hundreds against them with a highest of that historic 281, which came in 2001 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
In Australia, he averages 45.50 with four tons in 14 Tests (excluding the current Perth Test). He has accumulated 1183 Down Under while in the same number of matches in India he has 1198 runs with two hundreds (average 57.04).
India started the series as favourites to win the series in Australia which they have never done before. However, nothing has gone right for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men.
The 17-member touring Indian party has two reserve batsmen in Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
The talented Rohit might get his Test cap in Adelaide where the fourth and final Test starts on January 24. And the man likely to make way for him is Laxman.
Will this be the end of a Very Very Special Laxman? We will know soon.