Balaji has trained for a countless number of hours to make his international comeback
The whole cricketing world knows the touching story behind Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh’s return to the international game, but there was one more Indian player who quietly made his comeback into the Indian squad which many people failed to pay any attention to.
Lakshmipathy Balaji, who was considered to be one of India’s finest pace bowlers at one point in his career, has defied the odds and bounced back after suffering stress fractures in his back and undergoing back surgery in 2005, which took him out of action for three years.
Balaji’s story of overcoming adversity is truly an inspirational one, especially if one looked at the number of hours he put in to get back in shape, but the cricketing community and the media were all looking the other way and marvelling at the amazing recovery of Yuvraj after he was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer last year.
Balaji is happy to be back in form again and performed extremely well in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), claiming 11 wickets in eight matches at a brilliant average of 14.81.
“I’ve worked on my bowling a lot in past few years… And I have to say that the IPL has given me an excellent platform to breach the gap between domestic cricket and the intensity of the game internationally,” Balaji said.
The Indian pace bowler also mentioned that he got more accustomed to international conditions by playing a majority of his IPL matches under lights.
“As most of the matches are played under lights, it helped me to be in touch with the international match-playing conditions… You don’t get to play under lights in the domestic tournaments… Plus, playing against players from all over the world. So, IPL has really helped,” Balaji added.
Balaji took one step closer to his dream of representing India again after he was included in the 15-man squad that would be heading to Sri Lanka for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20.
“I can’t say that it is going to be the biggest event in my life… To me every match is equally important. It is always an honour to represent your country. There’s a lot of pride involved in it. On my part, the only thing that I can do is give my best… My hundred per cent. I don’t see it as a burden of expectations,” he said.
Balaji also noted that playing domestic cricket in India had helped him find his form and earn a spot on the national team roster once again.
“I’ve been working on my strengths… Trying to enhance whatever positives I’ve got. Actually, playing cricket for the state side in the domestic circuit gave me the time to understand my game… It has been three extremely competitive years of cricket. And yes, it has helped,” Balaji added.
His attitude has changed as well, as he stated that no matter what happened in this chapter of his career, he would always be standing strong with a smile on his face.
“No matter what happens, everyday I wake up with enough motivation and that helps me push myself further,” he said.
Balaji also noted that he was confident about India’s chances of winning the ICC World Twenty20.
“We have been having a really good time…It’s a very warm bond that we share…We are practising hard and will take it match by match,” he said.
With India lacking in the pace bowling department, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to unleash Balaji at some point during the tournament to wreak havoc amongst the opposing team’s batsmen.