Lakshmipathy Balaji was at some point of time India’s premier fast bowler . India’s historical tour to Pakistan in 2004 was one of the high points of his career.He became very popular in Pakistan, where he attended several school and high profile functions.
But the rise of guys like Irfan Pathan and R. P. Singh as well as his injuries curtailed his International career . Injuries were surely the main reason. Balaji was once a genuine fast bowler who could move the ball in the 140s. His outswing was his main weapon. But his pace and injuries could not walk hand in hand and he had to curtail his pace and concentrate on line and length along with his cunning variatioons.
But after losing 3 years of his cricketing career due to injury, IPL brought an array of hope to guys like Nehra and Balaji . Both of them managed to get back into the Indian team and Nehra in particular went on to play the World Cup. Balaji , on the other hand was drafted into the team but was removed for no reasons.
For Balaji , IPL has never brought him the glory he deserves. The reason seems to be the other high profile players in the team, who took away all the credits. He was the first player to pick an IPL hattrick and was instrumental in Chennai’s road to final in the first edition but the credits went to Manpreet Gony and he was drafted into the Indian squad , though was kicked out soon.
In the next editions , IPL saw the rise of CSK mates Suresh Raina and Murali Vijay . Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey already had their share of fame. Balaji was very economical in the death overs with slow ball bouncers, back of hand slow ball and some other variations. He was praised by Dhoni but was definetely superficial and he was bought by KKR in the next season.
Though , KKR had a rough IPL 4 but they emerged victorious in the 5th season. Balaji got his share of fame and was drafted into the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup, only to be removed after a decent outing. IPL 6 was to an extent forgettable for him and it saw him going to Kings11 in the next auction. Figures don’t always picture it right , and it harmed Balaji as one will surely go for more if he bowles in the death.
But the same story continues for him . Even after match winning spells, it’s Maxwell and Miller , who are the face of the team. It completely show how the game has been dominated by the batsman since it’s origin
Now. it is upto the Indian selectors if they want to give him a final chance at the International level. With the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand , it is almost certain that spinners won’t be that handy and the onus will fall on the pacers. The advantage which Balaji brings into the side is his death bowling, which has been India’s problem for quite a bit now. His variations can be very handy in the death and will mean proper use of Shami Ahmed.