Lakshmipathy Balaji is a former Indian cricketer who has played all formats of the game for his country. He was born on 27 September 1981 in Uthukadu, Walajabad in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu.
Balaji is a right-arm fast medium bowler who likes to swing the ball both ways. His height gives him an advantage to release the ball from a good height, which most Indian bowlers lacked at that time.
Balaji is known for his ever-smiling face on the field no matter what situation.
Balaji started playing cricket in the Ranji Trophy in 2001 for Tamil Nadu and that caught the attention of the selectors.
He finally got a chance to play for the national team in 2002, a time when India desperately needed quality pacers.
He mainly got to play in ODIs, and played very few tests. Balaji’s first series was against West Indies, where he was largely disappointing in maintaining economy.
Balaji is strangely one of the very few Indian cricketers to have played first-class cricket in New Zealand for the Wellington Firebirds.
He has represented the following teams - Tamil Nadu, Chennai Super Kings, India, Wellington Firebirds, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab, and TUTI Patriots.
Lakshmipathy Balaji made his international debut on 18 November 2002 against West Indies in an ODI. He conceded 44 runs in his 4 overs and had a very embarrassing day.
This performance would later cause an exclusion from the team for sometime.
On 8 October 2003, Balaji made his test debut against New Zealand at Ahmedabad. He picked up just one wicket in a match that ended as a draw.
On 11 September 2011, Balaji made his T20I debut against New Zealand and picked up one wicket in what was a thriller won by New Zealand.
Rise to Glory
Lakshmipathy Balaji has a very silent career in tests, but displayed impressive determination after he was excluded due to poor performances.
He bounced back from a horrific ODI debut against West Indies and picked up 12 wickets in the 2002-03 test series against Pakistan in Pakistan. Irfan Pathan too had made his test debut at that time, and was a part of a young energetic bowling side.
Balaji’s Test career effectively came to an end in 2005 due to fitness problems and a fracture to his back that year seriously threatened his career.
Displaying tremendous fighting spirit, Balaji made a comeback from the injury and went on to play for many more years.
Balaji has played 8 tests and has picked up 27 wickets at an average of 37.18. His best figures are 9 for 171 which is his only 5-wicket haul.
In ODIs, he has 34 wickets from 30 games at an average of 39.52. T20Is were not much of a successful venture for Balaji as he played only 5 games and picked up 10 wickets at an average of 12.10.
Balaji started his cricketing career for Tamil Nadu and has played 106 first-class matches for them.
He has a massive 330 wickets in his first-class career and has helped Tamil Nadu gain fame by becoming the best bowler from their state.
Balaji’s exclusion from the national team meant he could play more games for his domestic team and help them win more matches.
Balaji also played in the coveted Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings for three seasons and picked up his first hattrick which was a part of a five-wicket haul.
He picked up 11 wickets that season. Balaji has also played parts for the Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab. He has played 73 IPL matches and picked up 73 IPL wickets.
Balaji also played in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and helped his team TUTI Patriots to win the title. He has captained both Tamil Nadu and TUTI Patriots.
Balaji retired completely from cricket in November 2016 and is currently the bowling coach for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.