Laxman's affair with Eden Gardens

VVS Laxman’s decision to quit international cricket has created an emptiness at the Eden Gardens -- an iconic venue with which the stylish Hyderabadi’s love affair continued for over a decade.

In ten Tests, Laxman am­assed 1,217 runs at the ground, including five hundreds and three fifties, and was always a darling of the cricket aficionados here who could never stop loving his wristy strokes.

Laxman has also reciprocated the love, both on and off the field. His average is an astounding 110.63 which is third in the roll of players with at least 1,000 runs at a particular venue.

The incomparable Don Bradman leads with a figure of 128.53 in Melbourne, followed by fellow Australian Greg Chappell at 111.77 in Brisbane.

“It is a very special ground, definitely a very very special ground. It feels great. I have always enjoyed batting at the Eden Gardens. Not just batting, all the Test matches I have played here, I have really enjoyed playing here,” Laxman said after scoring his fifth hundred -- an unbeaten 176 -- in his 10th Test match at the Eden last November. 

Among the Indian players who played at the Eden, the one who is closest to Laxman is former captain and another stylish Hyderabadi Mohd Azharuddin.

Laxman, a touch artist in the Azharuddin mould, conquered the hearts of the spectators here with his epic 281 in the 2001 March Test against Australia, that propelled India to a fairy-tale win from a seemingly hopeless position. 

An authoritative innings of 154 not out against the Carl Hooper-led West Indies the very next year and another unconquered 112 opposite arch-rivals Pakistan in 2007, made Laxman a favourite of the passionate Eden crowd. Last but not the least, he made an unbeaten 143 against South Africa in 2010 that enabled India to canter to an innings victory and retain their place as the world’s top Test team.

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