Former Indian and TamilNadu paceman Lakshimipathi Balaji has announced retirement from first-class cricket. The veteran bowler represented India in 8 Tests, 30 ODIs and 5 T20Is. “I have decided to move on, it’s the right time. But it’s not a complete (retirement) announcement. I’ll continue to play T20s in tournaments like the TNPL.” , told Balaji (to Wisden India).
Hailing from Uttukaadu (Walajabad) in Kanchipuram District, TamilNadu; Balaji made his first-class debut for TamilNadu in 2001. His 16-year first-class career saw him play 106 matches picking 330 wickets. Aside from his first-class Career, Balaji played 100 matches List-A matches picking 145 wickets. During his tenure as captain, TamilNadu occupied the second position and ended up runners during the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Balaji’s hat-trick in 2008 IPL
The lanky pace bowler made his international ODI debut in 2002 aganist WestIndies at Vadodara while Test career took off aganist New Zealand at Ahemedabad in 2003. During India’s 2004 tour to Pakistan, Balaji played a crucial role in India’s series victory in both the Test and ODI formats. His match-winning performances during the series are regarded his best cricketing moments.
A lethal back injury halted his international career in 2005 and kept him out of action till 2007. Returning to domestic cricket in 2007, Balaji was drafted into Chennai Super Kings team during the inaugural IPL edition which he represented till 2010. During the first IPL, Balaji recorded a hat-trick in his 5-wicket haul becoming the first player to achieve a hat-trick in IPL.
During the later stages of IPL, Balaji evolved into an effective T20 bowler representing Kolkata Knight Riders (2011-13) and Kings XI Punjab (2014-present). His consistent and economical bowling in IPL lead to his inclusion in the national T20i squad for the 2012 T20 World Cup held in Sri Lanka. During the last year’s domestic season (2015-16), Balaji along with this bowling additionally undertook the role of mentoring the TamilNadu’s bowling attack.
Currently a part of ongoing TNPL tournament, speculations remain large regarding the veteran’s role on account of his retirement. Concludes Balaji, “I’m yet to decide whether to continue as bowling coach. After this tournament (TNPL) ends, I’ll think about it and decide. I have a young family, will discuss with them and the board and make a call”