Some memories never die. They make you feel warm on a cold night. They make you feel young again. VVS Laxman's 281 against Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne and his 376-run partnership with Rahul Dravid at the Eden Gardens in March 2001 is one such treasure.
The importance of that knock cannot be overestimated. The match fixing scandal of the 1990s was still looming large. Sourav Ganguly had taken over as captain a year ago. John Wright, as the new coach, was discovering the strange ways of Indian cricket. Harbhajan Singh was a talented but wayward youngster. India had been mauled by Australia in the earlier Test in Mumbai and was facing a follow-on in Kolkata.
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor on Sunday joined a host of former and current Indian cricketers in paying tributes to VVS Laxman who retired from international cricket on Saturday, saying that India would find it difficult to get a replacement of his calibre.
"The retirement of Laxman and (Rahul) Dravid gives opportunity to two new younger players in the Indian side. But you cannot replace Rahul or Laxman — the two greats of the Indian game," Taylor told reporters after the visiting team's practice session here.
"Yes, (against these two players) we had plans few months ago but we don't need to have those plans anymore," he said in a lighter vein ahead of the first Test to be played at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal on August 23.Taylor's team-mate Brendon McCullum said that Laxman was a phenomenal player who managed to shore India up in many a pressure situations.
"He scored runs against us last time (in Ahmedabad) when we thought we had an opportunity to win a Test match but that was not so," he said.McCullum felt the Indian team without Laxman and Dravid will lack in experience and his side would look to exploit that aspect.
"It is so long (they played) in international games. Now we have exploit those areas," he said.
Another New Zealander Martin Guptill termed the retirement of Laxman as a "big loss" for India cricket."He (Laxman) played a lot of international cricket over the years and scored lot of Test runs. It will be quite tough to fill his place," Guptill said.
Asked if Laxman's absence will benefit the New Zealand team, Guptill said, "It will, in a way."
Pacer Tim Southee said Dravid and Laxman were two great players with lot of experience.