Lakshmipathy Balaji Profile
This lanky medium-fast bowler from Chennai had a forgettable debut when he was hammered with 44 runs in just 4 overs in the home Test series against New Zealand in 2003.
Lakshmipathy Balaji emerged as one of India’s fastest bowlers during the tour of Pakistan in 2003-04, where he managed a then career best of 4 for 63. His ability to swing the ball away, coupled with his unusual batting style and a smile wider than anyone else’s, made him a favourite among the crowds. His career took a back seat when he was hit by a threatening injury in 2005. Balaji made a roaring comeback after a successful surgery and performed brilliantly in the first season of the IPL in 2008, where he scalped 11 wickets for Chennai, along with the first hat trick of the Indian T20 League. He was also instrumental in taking Tamil Nadu through to the semi-final of the Ranji Trophy with 36 wickets at 17.50 that marked his return to domestic cricket.
In 2009, Balaji was recalled into the ODI team for the series in Sri Lanka since his debut in 2002, as a replacement for injured Munaf Patel and was also included in the Test squad for the New Zealand tour. His quick-arm bowling action has been difficult to tackle for most batsmen. Bouncers, yorkers, everything came out of his bag without a noticeable change in action. His tendency to bowl wide from the crease made the batsmen believe that the ball was coming in, when it actually swung away.
Balaji represented Chennai for the first three seasons of the Indian T20 League, but in 2011 he was signed by Kolkata. He had a satisfying season with the franchise in 2012 and that quickly earned him a place in the Indian T20I squad for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. He played his last international for India in the tournament. In the 2014 auction, Balaji was purchased by Mohali, the third franchise he represented in the Indian T20 League.