Fast bowler Laxmipathy Balaji on Thursday announced his retirement from First-Class Cricket & List A cricket, but has said he will be available for smaller T20 leagues. Balaji has played 8 tests, 30 ODIS and 5 T20Is for India.
Speaking to the Hindu, Balaji quoted, “I have to move on, have a young family now. I have given it all during my 16 years as a first class cricketer. I will be playing in shorter formats of game in competitions such as IPL and TNPL. I want to thank the TNCA and all those cricketers and coaches who have guided me.”
Balaji made his ODI debut against WI in Vadodara. It was not a memorable outing for him as he took a beating conceding 44 runs in 4 overs. Soon, He was dropped from the side. 2004 was the best year as far as Balaji”s career is concerned. On 18 January 2004 at Brisbane he bagged his career best of 4/48 which was instrumental in India”s win over Australia. Decent performances in next few matches kept him in the hunt for selection. His best time came in 2004 in Pakistan when he played a crucial role in India winning both test and ODI series. However inconsistent performances and emergence of talented fast bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh meant Balaji was sidelined.
He has the honour of becoming first bowler to take IPL hat-trick. A low point came in his IPL career when he couldn”t defend 21 runs in the last over against Mumbai Indians. Other than that his performances were pretty decent. He was a part Chennai Super Kings for first seasons, later was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders. Balaji is currently a part of Kings XI Punjab squad.
Balaji made a brief comeback to Indian team in 2012. He emerged as leading wicket taker for India taking 9 wickets in ICC WT20 2012 in Sri Lanka but was never picked again. Even though he has announced his availability for T20 leagues, with age not on his side and good crop of youngsters coming up the chances of seeing lot of cricket from him look dim.
– by Atharva Apte