VVS hopes to strike form early

The then Indian captain, Kumble announced his retirement on the final day of the drawn third Test against Australia on November 2, 2008. It was an emotional moment for all his team-mates, but particularly so for VVS Laxman, the Hyderabadi stylist who shares a very close bond with the Bangalore leg-spinner.

Alongside Gautam Gambhir, Laxman was one of two double centurions in that Test, but more than that feat, he recalls the game for Kumble’s swansong. “It was a very memorable game for all of us, we all remember it very fondly,” Laxman told Deccan Herald on Saturday.

“It was a sad moment because a legend had retired, but it was also fantastic to see the farewell he got at the end of the game. It’s something that will be remembered by all of us forever, the scenes at the end of the Test stand out in my memory even today.”

Laxman was one of the first people to be told by Kumble of his imminent retirement. “Anil told us two days before that he was calling it quits,” Laxman recalled. “We hadn’t planned anything as such but whatever happened was so spontaneous. All of us just got together, lifting him on our shoulders and carrying him around the ground in a lap of honour. It was a special moment for us, and the way the crowd cheered was amazing.”

This is Laxman’s first visit to the Kotla for an international fixture after that game. “The Kotla has been a very good venue for me. Not just that 200 not out against Australia, but I have generally performed here consistently,” said the man who turned 37 on Tuesday. Laxman has made 478 runs in five Tests here at an average of 119.50, including that double and three half-centuries. “I would like to build on that record. Personally for me, it will be important to be in the runs. This is the start of a new season, and especially before the tour of Australia, it will be good to get some runs under the belt.”

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