13 February 2009

Balaji - Return of the Ultimate Sooparstaar

Has Balaji's performance since he regained fitness and got back to the game with reduced pace and a remodelled action really justified a Test match recall? Over Sreesanth and Arpy Singh?

Here are three Bala-watchers who have written about his comeback in the recent past.

N Balajhi of TCWJ:

"LAKSHMIPATHY BALAJI has made comeback into the Indian team after a stellar performance in Ranji trophy where he tallied 36 wickets @ 17.50 in 7 matches. The no. of times he hit the stumps, in his come back Ranji season, was the impressive aspect about his come back. His main weapon, straightening on off-stump is still intact. His inswingers are news to me. He swung the ball both ways. ...
Despite his ability to move the ball bothways he is vulnerable in international cricket for his lack of pace. He was never quick but now slowed down to early 120's. At this pace he got to bowl a very disciplined line in international cricket, especially in ODIs and back that up with good length. At this pace Balaji should try to emulate that Kiwi Larsen, in terms of line and length."

Siddharth Monga on Cricinfo:

"His comeback started during the IPL, but then again so did Ashish Nehra's. Both of them impressed, bowling four overs a day, but the real test would be to bowl 20 to 30 overs a day on unresponsive tracks. Nehra broke down again, but Balaji has gone on through the league stages and the quarter-final of the Ranji Trophy. When it comes to unhelpful tracks, none come worse than the Chinnaswamy pitch, where Tamil Nadu played Bengal.
... Balaji did that and more on a pitch where taking wickets in quick succession was next to impossible. He took five of them for seven runs, whereupon Tamil Nadu went on to make an incredible comeback and make their way through to the semi-final. It wasn't easy: he looked innocuous at times, bowling in the mid-120s and not getting any help from the pitch. But he persevered. In the first innings, he bowled what looked like a slower legcutter to Manoj Tiwary, which jagged in and bowled him. Tiwary was closing in on 150, but nobody expects googlies from pace bowlers. "

On the same quarterfinal match,
Soulberry of The Ranji Trophy Chronicles

"My good friend and fellow Ranji Chronicler, N Balajhi advised caution to my enthusiasm on seeing L Balaji swing it both ways. He was correct of course...the speed was off and all that stuff which makes you less effective on the international stage...but he was lethal today. It was as if he had a magic wand to the ball as he sliced through the Bengal order to end up with six dangerous wickets. dangerous because they tempt you to call him up for national attention. I am tempted to ignore my friend's good advice and call for more of Balaji! Anyway, the gist of the story is the ball moved out, the ball moved in, the batsmen didn't have a clue. Not since Irfan Pathan lost it have we seen consistent swing like Balaji showed us."


Soulberry said...

Gulp! One can only wait and watch now. :( Hope lives though.

John said...

New Zealand's the best place.. There's no reason why he should not come through.

NR said...

He does fit into the India bowling lineup as he has no pace and in international cricket he will definitely be taken for a ride....Irfan is a prime example as he had lost his pace and swing. He is no doubt far better bowler than sreesanth as he is just agarkars replacement or rather should i say worse than him.
Hope Balaji does well for India and himself and making full use of this opportunity.

John said...

Welcome to the blog Nazish. Maybe you should respond to TM's post on the choice of speedsters.