Bengaluru: The chief architects of one of India’s greatest Test wins, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid came together here in Bengaluru on Thursday evening to reminisce that historic moment at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens back in 2001.

It was an evening to remember as Laxman and Dravid walked down the memory lane as the former was in the city to launch his autobiography “281 and Beyond”.

The duo recalled their epic partnership against Australia in Kolkata and Dravid described Laxman’s 281 as the “greatest innings” played by an Indian cricketer in history.

Also read: Laxman unveils his autobiography, says 167 against Australia was career-defining

Thanks to Laxman-Dravid heroics and the bowlers, India scripted a come-from-behind 171-run victory to level the three-match series. And later, won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Chennai.

“It was pleasure to bat with him, right from the south zone level. And to continue that as India player, it was an absolute privilege for me. I sometimes tell people, and I really mean that, I really had the best seat in the house for the greatest Indian innings ever played. Without a doubt, I think, the 281 was probably one of the most significant and greatest innings played by an Indian cricketer, in terms of the context, the consequence, the innings was played in,” Dravid said drawing huge applause from former cricketers and the audience who had gathered for the book launch.

He continued, “And I had the best seat in the house for the best part of it. It was absolutely phenomenal to watch. Sometimes, I don't like watching a lot of cricket. I really hate watching myself bat again when sometimes they show these old matches. If I am playing in that, I actually change the channel.

“But, we do have the tape of 281 and sometime back I was showing my children that tape which was made on that particular series. The kids wanted to see it. I was just sitting back and watching that innings, watching Laxman bat. Some of the shots he played on that particular day were absolutely phenomenal, incredible.”

Dravid, who scored 180 during that epic 376-run partnership with Laxman, said it was a “magical day” at Eden Gardens in March, 2001.

“Actually, I was still imagining him and visualising him, stepping outside the leg-stump and hitting Shane Warne through the covers, for a ball that is pitched yards outside the legs-stump. Or to be able to flick a ball on the middle and off-stump on a turning track in Calcutta, across the line, against a great bowler like Shane Warne. Or driving Glenn McGrath or Jason Gillespie. The way he did it, I think, for me, it was an incredible experience, watching him bat,” Dravid recalled.

The 45-year-old credited Laxman for helping him rediscover batting form in the iconic Test.

“To be honest, I was not in the greatest of form leading into that particular innings. By the time I went into bat (at No 6), Laxman was batting at 90-odd. I was not playing well in that series and watching him play gave me a lot of confidence. It was a magical day. I am truly grateful and blessed to have had that opportunity and to have experienced that, with someone who I knew when I was kid, to have experienced with him, as a friend, in a lot of ways it defines us. In lot of ways it (281) defines him than me. In a lot of ways that partnership defines our relationship,” Dravid said.

Laxman said they batted according to the merit of the ball as India were in a “terrible situation” that day.

“It was a terrible situation for all of us to be in. We were thinking of the present. We are 274 runs behind (after following on). All we did was, playing according to the merit of the ball. And we did not have too much of conversation. All we did was punch the gloves and said 'one more over'. We broke it down into small goals,” Laxman said.
When asked about the conversation between the two during that association, Dravid said Laxman was busy with his routines and they did not speak much.

“He had so many of his routines, like, he will tap the gloves, then he will go to the crease, mark seven times this side and six times the other side. Then he will come and stand. He was in such a rush to do all his lines that there was no time to have a conversation. I am waiting there to talk to Laxman and he is busy marking lines. I always used to pull his leg about it,” Dravid said.

The book launch was attended by GR Viswanath, Roger Binny, EAS Prasanna, Syed Kirmani, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble, Dodda Ganesh, Robin Uthappa and several other former cricketers and Laxman’s friends. Also, Laxman’s parents, his wife and children were present.