Thursday, January 3, 2008


VVS Laxman has spoken in defense of Dravid's laborious ways at the crease.A modest VVS Laxman paid tribute to India opener Rahul Dravid after the pair combined to put the tourists back in the hunt on the second day of the second Test against Australia in Sydney.

Dravid, who has struggled for form since he moved up to open the batting, played a vital anchor role for Laxman, who made 109 as the visitors reached 216 for three at stumps in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 463.

While unable to score as freely as would have liked - Dravid took 53 deliveries to move his score from 18 to 19 - the former skipper did contribute 53 in a 175-run second-wicket stand with Laxman.

"Even though Rahul wasn't timing the ball well I was very pleased that he played a fighting knock and that shows a lot about his character," said Laxman, whose innings came to an end at the hands of left-arm spinner Brad Hogg.

"I thought they bowled well to him, in good areas, and he kept fighting and it was a gritty knock from him."

Laxman believes the Test is evenly poised with three days to play.

"I think it's really balanced," he continued. "It's very important how we start off (on Friday) and it's important to get a big first-innings total as far as we are concerned.

"It's very important that Sachin (Tendulkar) and Sourav (Ganguly) start off on a high tomorrow and have a big partnership, but as of now it's evenly balanced."

Tendulkar was unbeaten on nine at stumps on day two, while Ganguly was 21 not out.

Despite displaying some aggressive stroke play on his way to a third century against Australia at the SCG, Laxman said it was not his plan to take on the bowlers from the outset.

"I think I was just playing the merit of the ball. It was not a conscious effort to counter-attack them," he explained.

"It's obviously a satisfying thing for any cricketer to do well against the best in the world.

"For me, also, I'm very, very pleased that I've done consistently well against them, and in some tough situations, so I want to carry that on. It's a very satisfying moment."

Meanwhile, Aussie paceman Brett Lee said the late-in-the-day wickets of Laxman and Dravid could prove crucial to the outcome of the match.

"That's the Australian way - we always hang in there and we always think that we have a chance of taking wickets, especially late in the day," Lee said.

"For us to go in with them one wicket down it would have been a little bit of a different story I think, but to get those last two was brilliant, so I think we're in a pretty good spot right now."This should be just enough to pep up Dravid to play a great knock in the second innings.

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