IPL: New challenge beckons Balaji at CSK

In the new IPL season, Lakshimpathy Balaji will be seen as Chennai Super Kings’ bowling coach.

Balaji has played 30 ODIs, 8 Tests and 5 T20Is for India.   -  C.V. Subrahmanyam

After spending time at the Kolkata Knight Riders for a while, it’s a homecoming for Lakshimpathy Balaji. The former India pacer, who was previously associated with the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise as bowling coach, has now joined the Chennai Super Kings in a similar role.

And, he is excited about the new role. “It is always good to be back home and I have played for CSK in the initial years and then made a comeback. I have been very much a part of CSK from the beginning,” Balaji told Sportstar on Friday.

Balaji is well aware of the vibes in the dressing room, his job would be to get the best out of the bowlers. “I would be playing the supporting role to make things work. The job would be to help the boys get into the right frame of mind and try to do the things that CSK is possibly known for - the killer instinct. We were one of the most lethal units in terms of bowling and power hitting. Definitely we have to ensure that the players are displaying that brand of cricket and are giving in their hundred per cent,” the 35-year-old said.

With the auctions scheduled to be held in Bengaluru next week, the Chennai outfit would be trying to rope in some of the big names. So, as a coach, how would he guide the star recruits?

Read: Look at the positives from South Africa Tests, says Dhoni

Balaji, who has played 30 ODIs, 8 Tests and 5 T20Is for India, believes maintaining a correlation between bowlers and fielders will be the key.

“I have always believed that bowlers win matches and the bowlers make inroads to decide the outcome. The T20 format being fast and it is more intimidating from the batsman’s side, still they have to get wickets to win a game,” he said.

“The game is played at such a speed where bowlers play a huge role and invariably that will be correlated with the fielding. These are two important things for a cricketer and for a fast bowler. Moreover, it makes a team more competitive on the field, because fielding and bowling invariably works in a partnership,” Balaji added.

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni back as the leader, the CSK will be hoping to display the firebrand cricket that it is known for, and Balaji is eaget to to chip in with his inputs to help the team get off to a good start. “We are very lucky that we have one of the best captains who can play that firebrand cricket any day. In spite of that we have to build a team which has energy on the field when it comes to fielding and bowling.”

Having seen the shortest version of the game evolve, the Chennai pace ace would be hoping to make this stint the one to remember.

After all, homecoming is always sweet!