Balaji to miss Bangladesh series

Published: Thursday, November 25, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:It's official! Injury-plagued Indian speedster Lakshmipathi Balaji, will miss the forthcoming Test and ODI series against Bangladesh beginning December 7, after failing to recover from an abdominal injury.

In an exclusive interview to Thatscricket.com, the 22-year-old bowler said that the injury has taken much longer to heal than he expected and confirmed that he will not be available for selection for the Bangladesh series.

"My recuperation has come off pretty well. I'm going through my workouts regularly without any kind of discomfort. Hopefully, I should be bowling in the nets in about three weeks time, which automatically puts me out of contention for the Bangladesh series," he said.

The right-arm bowler said he was not keen on hastening his return to cricketing action, as he doesn't want a recurrence of the injury, which kept him on the sidelines for nearly three months.

"I know it's frustrating to sit out. The injury is taking its own time to heal. It's been nearly three months since I last hurled the cherry for India. I just want to make sure that the injury is fully healed and it does not recur," he said in a freewheeling chat with this correspondent.

Balaji last played for India against Australia in the Videocon Cup in Amsterdam last August.

The lanky bowler, who created a mass hysteria after his exploits on the tours of Australia and Pakistan last season, is eyeing a comeback to the national side for the home series against Pakistan slated for February-March next year.

"Provided nothing amiss happens between now and then, I will be ready for the Pakistan series. We had turned in a remarkable performance in their own backyard early this year, and it will be great if we can cap off the season with another triumph over our arch-rivals on home turf," he quipped.

When asked whether the spate of injuries befalling the Indian seam bowlers can be attributed to "excessive" cricket played these days, the Tamil Nadu bowler conceded that too much of One-day cricket is responsible for the frequent injuries sustained by the quicker bowlers.

"Injuries are part of the game. One can't help it. I guess it has got to do with too much of One-day cricket that is being played all across the globe these days. After all we are humans only. At some point of time the body is going to give up."

"Having said that, I reckon being professionals we cannot offer any excuses. The mantra is to keep working hard on our fitness regimen and be up to it," he observed.

The confabulation veered towards the scorching six he whacked off Pakistani express man Shoaib Akhtar in the Lahore One-dayer, and Balaji is looking to recreate the same in India.

"I thoroughly enjoyed that. I had never hit a six before in any first-class game in India. I would like to thump a few more sixes off Shoaib when the Pakistanis tour here," he said flashing a broad grin.

Replying to a query about his batting abilities, the swarthy seam bowler, who snaffled a series-clinching four-wicket haul in the Karachi Test, made it clear that he does not see himself as an all-rounder.

"Look, I'd not like to consider myself as an all-rounder. Instead I would like to be a contributor. I hate to get out to a first ball duck. Obviously, I'd be a happy man if I can chip in with 20s and 30s on a consistent basis for my team," he said.

His baptism to international cricket was something, not every cricket debutant would want to emulate. The bowler was a bundle of nerves as he was taken to the cleaners by the West Indian batsmen, on a batting beauty in Vadodara in November 2002. Not only was he wicketless in that match; his four overs cost him a whopping 44 runs.

Two years down the line, Balaji sought to put things in perspective.

"Honestly, I did not bowl well. I struggled to get my line right in that match. But I have never lost belief in myself. I knew that I had it in me to play international cricket. I strived hard on my bowling kinks and all that has paid off," he quipped.

There's competition among the faster bowlers for spots in the national side, following the surfeit of injuries, sustained by our bowlers in recent times. But Balaji's line of thinking is that a healthy competition bodes well for the side.

"Actually, it's good for the side. It keeps everyone on their toes. Also that way, one does not have to bother about complacency creeping into any player," he said.

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