Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra has picked VVS Laxman’s innings of 96 against South Africa in Durban 2010 as the best he’s seen in the last 10 years. The game Nehra is referring to is the second Test of India’s tour of South Africa in 2010/11 in which Laxman’s defiant knock paved the way for an Indian win as under MS Dhoni, they beat South Africa by 87 runs to level the three-match series 1-1.

“VVS’ innings was crucial: it was the reason India could set a formidable target of close to 300 for South Africa to chase,” Nehra told ESPNCricinfo. “The Durban wicket was very tough to bat on, against a South African bowling attack that had Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who were on top of their game at the time. Other than VVS, nobody barring Viru [Virender Sehwag] even touched 30.

Nehra admitted Nathan Lyon’s 8/50 in Bengaluru in 2017 was a close second as it came on Indian soil against a formidable batting line-up, but went ahead with Laxman’s knock since it brought India on the doorstep of history.

“Lyon’s was a great performance because it came against Indians batting in India. Importantly, it was the first day of the Test match. Yes, there was a little moisture in the pitch, and because of that he was getting turn, but that was only for the first hour or 90 minutes. An Australian finger spinner taking eight wickets is something spectacular,” Nehra added.

“Some might say VVS has played similar innings before. But that innings was very special. He batted along with the tail, including stitching a partnership of about 70 with Zak [Zaheer Khan]. And VVS was the last man to get out. With that innings, not only did India win the Test and level the series, they also came close to winning a Test series in South Africa. They were denied because Jacques Kallis scored a century in each innings in the third Test.”