Balaji still wonderstruck of his popularity

Published: Saturday, April 17, 2004, 2:05 [IST]
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Rawalpindi :He is enjoying unprecedented popularity in Pakistan but a clueless Indian seamer Laxmipathy Balaji is still wondering what has made him click in this land of Pathans.

The medium-pacer, who helped shape India's historic Test series triumphon Friday, has been greeted with chants of "Balaji, Balaji" and has emerged as a hero of sorts.

Asked what was the secret of his popularity, Balaji replied modestly that even he was not sure what the reason was.

"I really don't know. I asked a few people, and they said my name sounded good. Others said it had something to do with my smile. But I really don't know," said the bowler trying hard to repress a grin.

Balaji emerged as a key bowler claiming 12 wickets in the three-match series. In the series decider, he took seven wickets to play a stellar role in the victory.

"Taking wickets is always important, it gives you the confidence. The tracks for the Test matches had something for the bowlers unlike the pitches for the One-dayers. So it helped us," he said.

Balaji said his performance in the high-profile series has given him the confidence to perform well against any team but admitted that he had a long way to go.

"I had worked on my line and length and my inswingers for this series. I am happy that the hard work has given some result, but I still have a long way to go," the bowling sensation said.

"I felt that I was bowling with a good rhythm in the Tests. It is now important to take this confidence forward and maintain this rhythm in future matches. I have to keep improving."

Balaji said the series triumph against Pakistan was a "special feeling" and it was a great honour for him to be part of the team which had created history. "Beating Pakistan is always special. We had come here to do just that, so it's a great feeling. We now have to carry on in this way."

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