x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Confusion over VVS Laxman's future

Batsman to retire says Indian official but captain MS Dhoni, suspended for slow over-rate during Perth Test defeat to Australia, is caught unaware.

Ben Hilfenhaus, the Australia paceman, celebrates the wicket of India’s Ishant Sharma.
Ben Hilfenhaus, the Australia paceman, celebrates the wicket of India’s Ishant Sharma.

VVS Laxman's will be the first head to roll after the shambolic tour of Australia as India embark on the unpleasant task of phasing out their ageing stalwarts, the Indian media reported on Sunday.

India slumped to their third consecutive loss in the four-match series in Australia, with only next week's Test in Adelaide left for them to restore some pride. Laxman has managed just one half-century in six innings in the series, and newspapers reported he would be axed if he did not retire.

"Laxman will retire at the end of the ongoing Test series in Australia," an unnamed official of the Indian cricket board was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

"He is 37 and India's next Test series is still at least six months away. Plus his form has dropped significantly, and his fitness, especially a troublesome back, is hampering him."

Another BCCI official was quoted as saying:"Laxman has been one of our finest batsmen but he has run out of time as he has failed to make it count against Australia, a team he has dominated at his best."

MS Dhoni, the India captain, who has been suspended for the fourth and final Test against Australia because of slow bowling, said he was unaware of the development.

"As of now, there's nothing I know officially," Dhoni said. "I don't know where this came from; until Laxman comes to me and says something, I can't comment."

It was India's seventh successive loss abroad, following their 4-0 rout in England last year.

As the nation debated the future of ageing greats Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul David and Laxman, the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was criticised for its short-sighted policies.

"They [BCCI] are doing extremely well when it comes to making money and controlling world cricket," said Kapil Dev, the former captain. "But what is the use if your team fails to win matches abroad?"

In another blow to India, Dhoni was suspended for the final Test because of slow bowling, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said yesterday.

"The India team has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate during the third Test against Australia in Perth ... and as this is the second offence within 12 months India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been suspended for the next Test match in line with the ICC Code of Conduct," said an ICC news release.