Balaji~~s immediate priority not India but TN

Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Chennai:Discarded India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji today said he was not unduly bothered about getting back into the national team and his immediate priority was to help his state side in the Ranji Trophy championship.

"I do not want to think about that now," Balaji, out of the Indian team since the tri-series in Sri Lanka in August, said when asked about his comeback chances.

"My immediate target is Tamil Nadu's opening Ranji Trophy match. I have to help the team get maximum points from the tie against Gujarat (from Nov 23-26)," the right-arm seamer told PTI.

"Depending on the opportunities given to me, I am sure I will and have to perform well.

"I am passionate about cricket and I apply myself to the fullest requirements of fitness and performance whether I play for Tamil Nadu or India."

Balaji was awe-struck by India's recent 6-1 win against Sri Lanka.

"It was mind boggling," he said. "I had watched each match and I congratulate each one in the team.

"I am looking forward to India winning the series against South Africa too, so that our international ranking goes up and thereby leading India to win the 2007 World Cup."

"I am sure the team will stand united and recreate this performance in each series both in Tests and One-dayers against the rivals to win the World Cup with confidence," he said.

"Every Indian will be looking forward to this," said Balaji who has played in eight Tests and 29 One-day internationals with 27 and 34 wickets respectively.

Balaji was full of praise for Rahul Dravid, the new captain.

"He has always been a very good thinker of the game and known for motivating other players," the 24-year-old fast bowler said.

"I do not have to say this because everyone knows about his qualities. From this team, everyone is expecting more match winning performances. Dravid is a big turn out in Indian cricket right now."

Balaji's state teammate Dinesh Kaarthick said he was eagerly looking forward to the Test series against Sri Lanka.

"I have been preparing hard for the Ranji Trophy match. I am fit and raring to go," the 20-year-old said.

"I am in the Test team, it is a matter of performing well when I get the chances."

The spectacular success of Mahendra Singh Dhoni notwithstanding, Kaarthick said he was aiming to make it to the One-day team as well.

"I have been giving thrust to both wicket-keeping and batting. I have prepared myself to rise to the expectations in both versions of the game," he said.

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