Meeting Bala anna gave me goosebumps

It was a very proud moment for me as I was just getting into the Tamil Nadu team, writes Abhishek Tanwar.

I have, over time, learned a lot by just watching and listening to Lakshmipathy Balaji when he was our coach.   -  K. R. Deepak

I first met Bala anna (Lakshmipathy Balaji) in Hyderabad during the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2015 when I joined Tamil Nadu as a replacement. Firstly, then, it was a very proud moment for me as I was just getting into the team. The very second thought which occurred to me was, “Wow, I will get to meet and interact with my favourite player Lakshmipathy Balaji.” As I was asked to join the side in Hyderabad, they handed me some of his clothes too because at that time he was our coach-cum-player.

I rushed to the team hotel as soon as I landed, the excitement was too much to hold. The first thing I did on reaching the destination was to go to his room and give him his clothes. I was so nervous that I could literally hear my heart beat. Well, moments later, there he was standing in front of me, sporting the ever-charming smile as he welcomed me. He wished me good luck ahead of the upcoming fixture. I also realised that he had been following me closely since he started praising me for my accuracy while bowling and the fearless attitude I carried. He also asked me to work on my speed a little bit. It was a dream come true for me. From seeing him on TV, absolutely decimating the Pakistan batting line-up in 2004, and winning us the match, to seeing him in person gave me goosebumps.

I have, over time, learned a lot by just watching and listening to him when he was our coach. It is just amazing how quickly he reads the batsman’s mind and accordingly switches his technique.

As told to Santadeep Dey.