Mohali, Mar 13: VVS Laxman has returned to Mohali where he conjured up a magical knock in October 2010, to lead India to a nail-biting one-wicket victory over Australia. However, this time, he will not be holding the willow but a microphone in his hand during the third Test from tomorrow.
Laxman, who has now retired from international cricket and is working as a TV commentator for the ongoing India-Australia series, travelled down memory lane of that heroic fourth innings special at the PCA Stadium.
In October 2010, India were set a tricky target of 216 by Ricky Ponting and his men. When Harbhajan Singh was dismissed with the score on 124, all hopes of a win had almost extinguished. But Laxman took India to a special success with Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha.
Laxman had to battle a sore back and in the company of No. 10 and 11, scripted one of India's famous wins. The Hyderabad batsman remained unbeaten on 73, with the help of a runner Suresh Raina. In the first innings too he had back trouble and was forced to bat at No. 10.
Those were tense final moments in Mohali on October 5 when Ishant fell with still 11 required. There was more drama when an LBW shout against Ojha was turned down and Australians missed a run out opportunity.
For once, the world got to see the not-so-cool Laxman when he shouted at Ojha for refusing a single. And in the end, India edged home when Ojha ran two legbyes of Mitchell Johnson. Laxman, once again was the fourth innings hero for India.
Recalling that game, Laxman told "Deccan Hearld" newspaper on Wednesday that "it was an unbelievable feeling" to have won from a hopeless situation.
Before this thriller, Laxman had produced a similar act two months earlier with a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo. India had won after a fourth innings chase anchored by the Hyderabadi.
"If you remember, I had the stiff back in Sri Lanka when I scored that century. Fortunately, for me there was a gap of about two months before the Australian series. I went to England for treatment and trained well at the National Cricket Academy. I was really feeling good. Even when I came to Mohali and trained, I felt perfectly well.
"It was while fielding that I got my back stiff again. I was unable to field for the rest of the innings," Laxman said.
Laxman and Ishant had an invaluable 81-run stand for the ninth wicket. "It wasn't until we were 20-25 runs away from the target that did I believe we could win the match. It was just a matter of two good balls and I was feeling only 25 per cent fit.
"After Ishant, Ojha showed great determination to hang in there. So tense was the situation that I even yelled at Ojha when he refused a single. Having come so close to the target, we didn't want to lose the match and the emotions got the better of me for a moment. But when the moment came, it was unbelievable. It was doubly satisfying because, for the first time, I had achieved this with number 10 and 11 batsmen. As my team-mates hugged me, I just kept saying 'what a great match!'".
This time around, India will be hoping to have an easy route to victory in third Test than those heart-stopping moments. And there is no fourth innings specialist Laxman if the team is in crisis.