“Like experiencing an episode of Man vs Wild” – CSK coach Laxmipathy Balaji recounts COVID-19 horror  

Laxmipathy Balaji recounted his battle with COVID-19
Laxmipathy Balaji recounted his battle with COVID-19
Wasiq Agha

Laxmipathy Balaji tested positive for COVID -19 on May 3. A day later, IPL 2021 was postponed indefinitely due to the rising COVID-19 cases amongst the franchisees. The Chennai Super Kings bowling coach has now shared his turmoil after recovering from the dreaded virus.

Laxmipathy Balaji recovered from COVID-19 on May 14. He tested positive along with CSK batting coach Michael Hussey, with the duo taken to Chennai from Delhi in an air ambulance for better healthcare facilities.

The 39-year-old narrated his first-person account to ESPNCricinfo, revealing what went through his mind after he contracted the virus.

“As I was isolating on my own having tested positive for Covid-19, a thought crossed my mind: recovering from Covid-19, both physically and mentally, is like experiencing an episode of Man vs Wild,” Balaji said.

Air travel is considered to be one of the main reasons why the IPL 2021 bio-bubble was breached mid-way. Speaking about his initial days after contracting the virus, Laxmipathy Balaji admitted he was shocked to find out once he tested positive for COVID-19.

“On May 2, I was feeling a bit of uneasiness. I had body ache and a mild nose block. I was tested the same day around mid-afternoon. By May 3 morning, I had tested positive. I was shocked. I had done nothing to breach the norms to endanger my and the rest of the bubble's safety,” Balaji explained.

A series of players and staff, part of the IPL 2021 have talked about how the conditions in the country affected them during the competition. While IPL 2021 continued inside the bubble, India was reeling under a disastrous second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Giving an insight into his state of mind once he tested positive, Laxmipathy Balaji admitted it took some time for him to understand the gravity of the situation.

“Was I scared? Initially, I could not express my feelings. I knew people were dying outside. It took me another 24 hours to sink into the seriousness of the issue once family and friends started to message. I started to get worried. From the second day in isolation, I realised I had to monitor myself, recording all the health data. I was obviously anxious,” Balaji conceded.

“Was also more worried about the others in my team” – CSK bowling coach Laxmipathy Balaji

With Laxmipathy Balaji serving as CSK bowling coach, the former cricketer was an integral member of the team. Many feared his positive result could trigger an outbreak, considering he was in close proximity to other players and members of the coaching staff. Laxmipathy Balaji admitted he had concerns about other’s health once he tested positive.

“I was also more worried about the others in my team who I was milling around with before I tested positive. Rajeev Kumar (CSK fielding coach), Robin [Uthappa] [Cheteshwar] Pujara, Deepak [Chahar] along with Kasi Sir were all around me. So my conscience was battling with the difficult question of what if any of these people tested positive, too? I was praying for their health,” Balaji mentioned.

Laxmipathy Balaji and Michael Hussey were the two members from CSK to contract COVID-19. The fast bowler is still at pains to understand how only the duo were exposed to the virus during IPL 2021.

“Even in Delhi, we followed the strict protocol. I don't know where we might have caught the infection: was it at the ground? Was it at the training ground at the Roshanara Club? But that was secluded. And why should only two of us get it?” Balaji pondered.

Both Laxmipathy Balaji and Michael Hussey have since recovered from the virus. Other cricketers like Wriddhiman Saha and Varun Chakravarthy have tested negative over the past few days as well.

Edited by Parimal Dagdee
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