A couple of days ago, former India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji announced his retirement from first-class cricket. Balaji took a total of 330 first-class wickets at an average of 26.1 and an economy of 2.8 with his career-best figures being 7/42.
Balaji made his debut for the Indian cricket team in 2002 and was a regular in the team before injuries forced him out of the game from 2005 to 2008. He made brief comebacks into the national team in 2009 and 2012; with the latter year being his last year in international cricket.
Balaji’s career-best figures in Test cricket is 5/76, his career-best figures in ODIs is 4/48 and in T20Is, his career-best figures are 3/19.
Let’s take a look at five of his best international performances.
#5 3/37 vs South Africa at Colombo, 2012
It was India’s final Super Eight match at the 2012 ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka. After a loss and a win against Australia and Pakistan respectively, India needed to beat South Africa by a decent margin to qualify for the semi-finals. Being put into bat first, India ended their innings scoring 152/6.
In their total defence, India began well but South Africa bounced back through Faf du Plessis’ 38-ball 65 and were in a good position.
India bounced back with Zaheer Khan and Balaji picking up crucial wickets with South Africa now needing 14 off the last over. The Tamil Nadu pacer was given the responsibility of bowling the final over. He was hit for a six by Albie Morkel, but bowled him in the very next delivery.
In the fourth ball of the over, Balaji was hit for a six again by Albie’s brother Morne. However, he bowled him the very next delivery to win the match for India.
Even though India couldn’t qualify for the semi-finals, Balaji helped India to a very memorable and end their World T20 campaign on a high. This also turned out to be Balaji’s final appearance in an India shirt.