Injury finished Balaji, India lost a classic bowler

L Balaji
Injury finished L Balaji, India lost a classic bowler. PC: Twitter

Lakshmipathy Balaji is one of the most unlucky cricketers for India. Balaji was a slim, lanky fast bowler from Tamil Nadu, always confuses batters with his open-chested action. Before the injury, he bowled with a whippy, quick-arm action that allowed him to bowl faster deliveries, yorkers, and bouncers with little to no change in bowling action. The batters became fool into thinking the ball would come in with the arm because of his open-chested action and tendency to bowl wide from the bowling crease. So when the ball swung away or even straightened, it made a loud noise.

Balaji the classical bowler

Balaji had a very bad debut against New Zealand at home. But during India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2003-04, he established himself as one of the country’s top fast bowlers. At the third Test in Rawalpindi, he was particularly lethal where he continuously swung the ball away from the batsman. At a time when everybody thought that India had produced another fine swing bowler, Balaji faced a series of Injuries. Which keeps him out of cricket for long. Once a very promising young right arm first-medium bowler became one of the most unlucky cricketer for India.

Personal Life

Lakshmipathy Balaji was born in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, on September 27, 1981. In 2013, he married Priya Thalur, a former Miss Chennai beauty pageant winner.

Domestic Cricket

L Balaji made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in 2001/02. He made an immediate impact with his swing bowling. This right-hand pacer played fourteen long years for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket. In 2005, he was forced to stay away from cricket due to a stress fracture. That injury threatened to end his career. He was unable to play cricket for three years. He had to have back surgery and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to bowl again.

But the tall pacer from the south made a strong comeback in 2008. After a good Ranji season in which he took 36 wickets at 17.50, Tamil Nadu reached the semi-finals. His absence from the Indian team benefited Tamil Nadu the most. They made him captain, and he became a very good Ranji side for many years. He even played in the first Tamil Nadu Premier League, where he led a young team to victory alongside Dinesh Karthik and Abhinav Mukund. Balaji has indicated that the TNPL final will be his final game. At the age of 34, On August 1, 2017, Indian bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji announced his retirement from first-class cricket. 

L Balaji played 106 First-Class matches and got 330 wickets. His best bowling is 7 for 42. He also played 100 List A matches and 103 Domestic T20 matches for his state Tamil Nadu. He also scored more than 1500 domestic runs for his state team.

Lakshmipathy Balaji is one of the few Indian cricketers to have played first-class cricket for the Wellington Firebirds in New Zealand.

For Team India

Lakshmipathy Balaji made his debut for the Indian Cricket Team on November 18, 2002, against West Indies at Reliance Stadium at Vadodara. Just before World Cup 2003 in South Africa captain Sourav Ganguly was looking for quality pacers. So, he got the chance to play the 5th match of the series. 

But it was a nightmare debut for Balaji. He considers 44 runs in just four overs. On 8 October 2003, he made his Test debut for India at Ahmedabad against New Zealand. He got only one wicket in the first inning, and in the second innings, he was wicketless. 

READ: Munaf Patel, the unsung hero of India in the 2011 World Cup

At the end of 2003, India was touring Australia, Balaji was selected for the ODI team. There performed quite well. In ten matches, he got 13 wickets. 

But Balaji became a real hero just after that tour. After his performance in the 2004 India Pakistan series, Balaji was started to be recognized. He was a crucial part of the Indian team’s historic victories in that series. It was India’s first series win in Pakistan. Balaji took 12 wickets in the three matches, including seven in the third Test to give India a 2-1 series victory. 

But after that series, his cricket career was put on pause due to an injury. In Pakistan’s 2005 tour of India, Balaji made a comeback. The Tamil Nadu bowler had his best Test figure of five for 76. After that, he never played Test Cricket.

In 2005, Balaji was forced to almost end his cricket career due to a stress fracture. He was unable to play cricket for three years. Balaji had to have back surgery and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to bowl again afterwards. For the next three years, he was unable to play cricket due to that injury. 

In 2007, Balaji returned to domestic cricket. After a good domestic performance in 2008, Balaji was called up to the international squad when Munaf Patel had a groin injury during the five-ODI series in Sri Lanka in January 2009. He played only the last match of that series. That was the last One Day International match L Balaji.

Balaji dropped from the ODI squad for the tour of New Zealand in February 2009. But he had been selected for the Test squad. Balaji returned to the Test squad after a four-year gap. His last appeared in the 2005 Test series against Pakistan. But he never got a game for India either in Test or ODI. 

READ Biopic on Pravin Tambe, Shreyas Talpade is playing the character

Balaji has appeared in eight tests, taking 27 wickets at an average of 37.18. His best bowling figures are 9 for 171, his only 5-wicket haul.

In ODIs, he played 30 games and got 34 wickets at an average of 39.52.

In T20I

In 2012, Balaji returned to India’s T20I squad. On July 18, 2012, he was named to a list of 30 probable for the World T20 in September 2012, which was hosted in Sri Lanka. He was selected for the final 15-member squad. In the second T20 International against New Zealand at his home venue of Chennai, he made his comeback into the Indian team. Despite a few excellent performances in the big event, he never played for India again. He played only five matches and got ten wickets at an average of 12.10.

In IPL

Lakshmipathy Balaji is one of the most successful bowlers in the IPL. Balaji was a core member of the Chennai Super Kings team for the first three editions of the Indian Premier League, which started in 2008. In a match against Kings XI Punjab in Chennai on 10 May 2008, Balaji took the first hat-trick of the IPL competition and finished with a match-winning five-wicket haul. His bowling economy rate has been remarkably stable overall T20 matches in the IPL. 

READ: Is Ramesh Kumar the second Narine of KKR?

He took four wickets against Rajasthan Royals on 30 April 2009 in the Indian Premier League’s second season, helping the Chennai Super Kings to victory. He played seven games in the third season of the IPL, getting seven wickets. He played most of the games in the CLT20 after winning the IPL, and his economical bowling was acknowledged by then Indian captain MS Dhoni, who mentioned it as one of the reasons for CSK’s success.

Kolkata Knight Riders bought him in the fourth season of the IPL. As a bowling coach, he had a significant role in the KKR’s success.

Retirement

In September 2016, Lakshmipathy Balaji announced retirement from all forms of cricket. 

Coaching career

Balaji was appointed as the Kolkata Knight Riders bowling coach and mentor. He was named the bowling coach for Chennai Super Kings for the 2018 IPL season.

Team Played For

India, Chennai Super Kings, Tamil Nadu, Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, TUTI Patriots.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: