When you think of a cricketing crisis, you tend to think of Border or Waugh, never ready to give up, no matter how

tight the situation. The chances are, however, that you don't think of VVS Laxman. Perhaps you should!nand heres why. Starting with that 281 - the defining innings of our age some of Laxman's greatest contributions have come in times of strife, with the innings a mere nudge away from calamity. Eighteen months on from the innings that ended one of the most remarkable winning streaks in sport, India arrived back at the Eden Gardens to take on a West Indies side that had been hapless victims in the first two Tests. Having conceded a first-innings lead of 139, India had slumped to 87 for 4 when Laxman arrived to lend Sachin Tendulkar a helping hand. They went on to add 214, Laxman finished with an unbeaten 154, and near-certain defeat was transformed into honourable draw. A year later, there was more potential for embarrassment at home was eschewed by a splendid Laxman effort. New Zealand piled up 630 at Mohali. Laxman first scored 104 to save the follow-on, and then followed it up with a gritty unconquered 67 to ensure that there would be no innings defeat after India had collapsed to 18 for 3. The effort was never realized and Laxman, as usual, never got his due! Two months later, he and Rahul Dravid reprised their Eden Gardens heroics at a sunbathed Adelaide Oval, adding 303 runs to alter the course of a game that appeared to be a lost cause. Laxman's contribution was an artistic and flawless 148. This was then followed up with a magical 178 at Sydney. The home series against Australia the following year was a disappointment, with defensive fields and tight bowling lines reducing Laxman to mere mortal status. Yet there too, when finally promoted to No.3 in the second innings at Mumbai after India had surrendered a 99-run lead, he conjured up a sensational innings of 69, adding 91 with Tendulkar. On an under-prepared pitch where the ball detonated off the surface, it was a great effort. The innings went unnoticed again! Against Sri Lanka came another colossal effort from probably the most underrated cricketer of all time. From the asphyxiating depths of 97 for 5, his partnerships with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan allowed India to end the day an advantage. All Laxman innings have had their moments of unsurpassed beauty - fine glances, gorgeous drives down the ground, and pulls played with such precision and timing that the fielders didn't even bother to move. It is a great advertisement for the game when Laxman is on song.

Of late, having forced to come down at number 6, he has had to bat with the tail and choose pragmatism over flamboyance. Ever since Dravid became the captain, Laxman has hardly found the number three spot. One can’t help but fell a tinge of sadness for a man who has given the game so much to cheer. It is absolutely unfair that a man of such immense talent and utility should be struggling to keep a place even in the test side. It is pretty evident that commercial success is more important than what goes on the cricket field, at least in the Indian team. s