May 11, 2021
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Quietly Confident

'Another Divine Intervention Needed'

'I am praying to God that he give me yet another opportunity (after the Australian tour) to show my mettle because India-Pakistan matches generate so many electrifying moments'

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'Another Divine Intervention Needed'

He has thrived on a "God-given opportunity" once and is now eyeing another such bounty to establish his credentials as a strike bowler.

Lakshmipathy Balaji, who made it to the Indian squad for the Australia series only on account of injury to Mumbai seamer Avishkar Salvi, is counting on his luck after having made an impression Down Under with his under-stated determination.

"I might have performed well in Australia. But I am now looking forward to Pakistan, of course I should get selected first," the 22-year-old speedster said.

"I am praying to God that he give me yet another opportunity to show my mettle because India-Pakistan matches generate so many electrifying moments," said the right-arm medium pacer who picked 13 wickets from ten one-day matches in the Australian tri-series.

Although Balaji did not play in the four Tests, he featured in all of India's outings in the tri-series -- again largely due to the injury-induced absence of Zaheer Khan and briefly that of Ashish Nehra.

And the bowler did not disappoint, managing to contain the rampaging Aussie batsmen to a great extent.

"I am more than happy about my performance. It was a learning experience. I rate this as a God-given opportunity and a memorable one at that," he said.

"I was happy to be part of the team, though I missed out on figuring in the eleven for the Test matches. The senior players, particularly my captain (Saurav Ganguly) and (Sachin) Tendulkar were of great help to me. "Thanks to them and the other members of the touring squad, I was able to perform. The experience there will hold me in good stead in the coming years," said Balaji.

The Tamil Nadu new-ball bowler also gave credit for his performance to "the pitches in Australia which are tailor-made for pace bowlers. The wickets are bouncy and the lateral movement always helps a bowler like me to do better."

Rating the pitch in Perth as the best among the Aussie wickets, Balaji said the recipe for success against batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting was "sticking to a good line and length".

"I was able to prevent the two hard hitters of the game from going berserk by just sticking to a good line and length," he said revealing that his trip to Australia earlier had helped him on the recent tour.

"I was a beneficiary of the Allan Border-Gavaskar Academy scholarship scheme. In 2002, I was selected by the National Cricket Academy for fast bowling training under the Australian Cricket Board Academy in Adelaide. That tour gave me an idea about the conditions of the pitch and the weather."

Balaji was all praise for the support and advice given to him throughout by the seniors.

"More than anything, the brotherhood shown by the seniors made me live up to their expectations. They used to correct me if I erred in line or length and advised me to bowl properly. It is very hard to get such an excellent captain who is always thinking about better performance by his team-mates," he said.


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