This one goes out to VVS Laxman, the plague of the Aussies and an artist with the bat.
Laxman is a strange phenomenon. Everything about his batsmanship is about beauty and grace but it is only under stress that those qualities come forth. It is in situations that would cripple lesser men that he truly shines. The more pressure he is under the more sublime his batting becomes. Against lesser teams when everything is settled it seems he doesn't know what to do, what to accomplish so he potters along. Once he knows that there are runs to get, it seems he plays with even more freedom. It is as if he knows that now that runs are the only thing that matter no one will care about the manner in which he gets them. Paradoxically this makes his batting all the more attractive. Like all great sportsmen he has an economy of movement that is best seen not described. He is comfortable either side of the wicket and is probably the only batsmen who can hit the same ball to extra cover or mid wicket as he pleases without looking ugly. It all looks so effortless and simple but of course its not.
His career defining innings without a shadow of doubt is the majestic 281 which he scored against his favorite opposition back in 2001 in the company of another great Rahul Dravid when he had an average of 27(It must definitely be the greatest knock by a batsman with an average of 27). That was the also the first time I saw the all conquering Aussies turn defensive and some of the best bowlers in the game looking utterly pedestrian.
Amusingly he is also at his best with a bad back. The hundred against Sri Lanka to win us the game in the fourth Innings followed by the incredible test match against the Aussies where he scored a runaball 73 with a bad back in the company of Ishant Sharma. The Aussies had all but won the game but there was still Laxman to contend with and for a change India were the ones snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Despite all this there was a time when he used to walk into every test match playing for his place in the side.
The Aussies must value his wicket even more than the little master's. He must appear in their dreams and nightmares. They do not know whether to marvel at his craft or curse their luck to be on the receiving end of so many fine knocks.
On that note I would beg him not to play in the IPL where he is reduced to a slogger and where all of the above does not hold true.