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Laxman unlucky to miss out

By V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD, APRIL 7. V.V.S. Laxman's omission from the one-day squad has disappointed many of his fans here. While statistics may not reveal the true class of a player, they do reveal something about his consistency.

If the last 15 one-dayers are considered, Laxman has not fared as badly as his critics suggest. His tally of 394 runs at an average of 30.30 is only below Sachin Tendulkar (554 at 39.57), Rahul Dravid (540 at 45), Virender Sehwag (485 at 34.64) and Sourav Ganguly (396 at 28.28).

While Sachin, Dravid and Sehwag are way ahead there is very little difference between Ganguly and Laxman in terms of runs. In fact, Laxman has a better average than his skipper.

Moreover, the stylish Hyderabadi is the only batsman other than Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag to make a century.

Where Laxman has failed to do justice is in his inability to convert good starts into big scores or at least half-centuries. He has just one 50-plus knock compared to Tendulkar (3), Sehwag (4), Dravid (6) and Ganguly (3).

It was Laxman's crucial century in the final one-dayer which enabled India clinch the series in Pakistan and he finds himself out in the cold in the next series against the same opponent.

There is also no big difference between Laxman and the one-day specialists, Yuvraj Singh and Mohd. Kaif. Laxman and Kaif have played 83 games and the former has made 2,309 runs (31.63), while Kaif has 1,741 (31.65).

Striking well

Laxman scored three centuries in the space of a week during the last tour Down Under to prove his capabilities in limited-overs cricket.

Laxman's strike rate is 71.57 compared to Kaif's 74.11. The biggest plus for Kaif is his fielding, but Laxman's amazing improvement in the slip cordon in the past 16 months has helped him pull off some incredible catches. Coming to Yuvraj, he has figured in 113 matches, made 2,629 runs (two centuries and 17 fifties) at 29.53 with a strike rate of 86.93. However, his major plus point is that he can bowl and has taken 31 wickets.

There seems to be no valid reason for dropping Laxman from the one-dayers. A disastrous tour of New Zealand just before the 2003 World Cup, when most of the Indian batsmen struggled to cope with swinging conditions, saw him miss the mega event.

Laxman is a treat to watch when in full flow. With the next World Cup two years away, it would have been ideal to have a long-term scheme by identifying some experienced, classy players who would be part of that campaign in the West Indies.

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