TNPL: Balaji won't play for Patriots

While Lakshmipathy Balaji will continue to be Albert TUTI Patriot's mentor, the former India fast bowler will not be a part of the playing side.

Lakshmipathy Balaji was one of the key players for the Albert Tuti Patriots in last year's TNPL.   -  K. PICHUMANI

In the inaugural edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) last year, Lakshmipathy Balaji was one of the key players for the Albert Tuti Patriots. But as the defending champion gears up to begin its campaign in the second edition, it will be missing him on the field.

While he will continue to be the team's mentor, the former India fast bowler will not be a part of the playing side.

"Balaji has taken up a different role. He has been very open and approached us in a different way. He has been helping us to prepare but I don’t think he will feature in the side this season," coach Monty Desai said.

Not just Balaji, the side will also be missing out on the services of Dinesh Karthik and Abhinav Mukund, who are in Sri Lanka with the Indian team. But the captain Anand Subramanian feels the team has enough resources to fill in the gaps.

"True, it is difficult to fill in the shoes of Dinesh and Abhi. Then again, we have done our homework during the off-season and we are quite prepared for the new season," Subramanian said.

But why did they stick to the same team as last year?

"Frankly, we were unsure about whether we would have them (Karthik and Mukund) both for this part of the tournament. You have to give credit to the whole team who stuck together as a family. We had three games in a row where we didn’t get the desired results but everyone stuck together and we need to back them for that. We had the whole team together and we didn’t want to make any changes there," Desai said.

The coach was optimistic about a good season. "It is very easy as it’s a fresh start for everyone. We have had a 10-month gap since the last tournament; everyone is starting from the first point. It will come down to how well all the teams have prepared. We have done our homework and it comes down to the basics. We have to make sure that our routines are right, one thing we did right last year was being consistent in our approach and that is what we want to do again," Desai said.

He added that the team will take a call about replacing Mukund and Karthik.

The defending champion will face Dindigul Dragons in the tournament opener on Saturday. The Dindigul side will miss the services of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who too is in Sri Lanka.

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