New Delhi: After playing a match-winning knock in the last Test match against Sri Lanka and helping India square the series, VVS Laxman said retiring from international cricket is the last thing on his mind and in fact, he is looking forward to keep winning matches for India. CNN-IBN's Sports Editor Gaurav Kalra spoke to the Hyderabadi batsman after he returned from the island nation.
CNN-IBN: You must have been very proud of what you achieved the other day in Colombo?
VVS Laxman: It was very satisfying - the manner in which we played on the last day of the third Test match. It shows the character and strength of the team. So I think it was a great result for the side and all our hard work during the series paid off.
CNN-IBN: Why it was always about the team and never about Laxman?
VVS Laxman: I think cricket is a team game and we are playing for each other. So the important point here is we are enjoying each other's success and helping each other in tough time. If everyone plays to their potential then the team eventually wins.
CNN-IBN: Chasing 250 on the final day of a Test match has not been easy. What was the thinking going on during a run-chase of that kind?
VVS Laxman: I think to keep it very simple and not to think about the end result. The process was very important and that's what we decided at the end of the fourth day when we lost three early wickets in the second innings. We decided that one good partnership and the momentum could shift to our side and luckily, Sachin and I shared a 100-run partnership which actually shifted the momentum back to our side. Once Sachin left, Suresh and I were able to finish the job. So while chasing in the fourth innings, it is very important not to think about the end result, think about the process instead, take ten runs at a time and have shorter goals. The end result will definitely take care of itself if we do the process right.
CNN-IBN: It was a tough series, especially losing the first Test at Galle and run feast in the second one. The bowling attack too was under a lot of scanner and how could the number one ranking be protected. Wasn't it an important thing to win the Test match to prove that India deserve the number one ranking?
VVS Laxman: It was very dissapointing the manner we started in Galle. One poor session and we lost the Test match there. But our bowlers did a tremendous job in the second and third Tests. It is very unfortunate to criticise them as one should remember that it was an inexperienced bowling attack and we played on flat tracks. The way they bowled in the third Test match, they really got us back in the game. So it was quite satisfying the way we ended the tour and the hard work we did during the tour really paid off.
CNN-IBN: You had seen the Australian side at their best when they were the number one side. One of the points of criticism of this Indian side is the bench-strength in the bowling department while the batting is taking care of itself. Is that worrying you, being a senior member of the side?
VVS Laxman: There is bench-strength; it is just about when they are getting the opportunity. If you see Pragyan Ojha, who played just a few Test matches before coming to Sri Lanka, the way he bowled in the third Test when Harbhajan was not there and Amit Mishra really supported him, though he himself did not get too many wickets. I was really impressed with Ishant Sharma and Abhimanyu Mithun — the way these two bowlers ran in and bent their backs. So I think there is enough bench-strength in the bowling department. It is actually too harsh to judge them when they were bowling on flat subcontinent tacks.
CNN-IBN: You have got a very tough season ahead. Firstly, the tough one against Australia followed by another one against New Zealand and the toughest one will be the tour to South Africa. You must be excited, wanting to play desperately for India?
VVS Laxman: Yeah, I am enjoying it. It's going to be a tough season first against Australia and New Zealand but the toughest tour of the season will be the South Africa tour. So I am really looking forward to it and will try to continue the good work, play to my potential and do well for the team.
CNN-IBN: The way you are batting, there is no question of retirement coming up anytime soon?
VVS Laxman: No, I am not even thinking about that. And as I have always said, it's a great honour to play for the country and I have really enjoyed it. So every Test match is an opportunity to do something for the country and I am really looking forward to the upcoming season.
CNN-IBN: Everyone has often spoken about your incredible record against the Aussies. So looking forward to crossing swords with them and also as they are not coming with their best possible side?
VVS Laxman: I will try to replicate my performance against them. It's going to be a tough series. Even though they are not no. 1, they are still one of the best sides in world cricket and it is going to be tough.
CNN-IBN: The emergence of Suresh Raina on the tour - first scoring a hundred on debut and following it up with couple of good knocks. So isn't it a positive sign that some of these youngsters are making a claim for the Test spot?
VVS Laxman: The manner Raina approached his innings on his debut Test match was really commendable as we were in a spot of bother till then. It is really a good sign but his experience in the ODI format has really helped him and I wish him and other youngsters all the best for their future.
CNN-IBN: Yuvraj Singh right now is in a position that you were at the beginning of your career; trying to find your feat in Test cricket, trying to make your place permanent, yet going in and out. What advice you will give him being the senior member of the side?
VVS Laxman: Everyone knows what a quality player Yuvraj is and whenever he got a chance, he has delivered for the team in both forms of the game and also in T20. I hope Yuvi will bounce back strongly.
CNN-IBN: Another wonderful series for Sachin, highest run-getter, a double hundred, important knocks in all the matches. Do you think he is going to play till he is 50 years old?
VVS Laxman: I have always joked that he and Arjun will play together. It is amazing to see the passion he has for the game as if someone has just started his career. Because of his commitment for the game and the passion he shows, he can be a role model for any cricketer or anyone in any walk of life. And the double hundred shows what kind of mental strength he has got.
CNN-IBN: Another phenomenal series for Virender Sehwag, both with the bat and ball?
VVS Laxman: The way he bowled was the stand-out thing in the series for me, as he provided us breakthroughs on important occasions. We are lucky to have players like Sehwag and Gautam who take attack to the opposition straight from the word go and take away a lot of pressure from us when we go out to bat.