VVS Laxman feels that the performance of openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will determine India's fate in the series against Australia starting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday. 

"I always believe that, especially on overseas tours, the key will be how we play the new ball, or even use the new ball. Whenever an Indian team has done well in Australia, we have had our openers firing. A lot of people talk about the middle-order contribution in the 2003-04 series in Australia, but it was because of the starts that Aakash (Chopra) and Viru (Virender Sehwag) gave us. They put a lot of pressure on the opposition bowlers.

Deadly duo: Gambhir (left) and Sehwag during the Mohali Test against 
Australia in October 2008. PIC/Getty Images

"On this tour, we are lucky to have two outstanding openers in Viru, who dominates right from the word go and puts pressure on the opposition bowlers, and Gautam (Gambhir), who keeps rotating the strike. They complement each other really well," said Laxman. The Hyderabadi stylist thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for sending him and a few teammates to Australia 18 days ahead of the first Test.

Thanks, BCCI!
"The BCCI should be complimented for sending us well ahead, for good preparation. Last time (in 2007-08) we had just one side game against Victoria, but it was washed out, so we directly went into a Test match without preparation. So, we are quite happy with the way we have prepared for this Test series. 

"Also, we are able to spend a lot of time together, especially with the one-day boys, who have recovered from the tough schedule that they have had. I think it was quite good the way we spent around 10 days in Canberra, and are quite happy with our overall preparation for this big Test series. Hopefully, we can start performing from the word go," he told reporters yesterday.  

Sticking to the pull
Laxman is not ready to curb his pulling instincts despite the shot leading to his dismissal in recent times. "In England, and in the second innings at Wankhede against West Indies, I got out to the pull shot, but saying that, it is my favourite shot and fetches me a lot of runs. It's just about how to execute the shot. That's important.

Once you are in the middle, you shouldn't have any doubts, and should back your game. Your game depends on the wicket you are playing on, and the kind of bowlers you are facing. As long as I stick to my game plan I will be very happy," he said.