Indian cricketer Ashish Nehra has made some bold claims about Lakshmipathy Balaji while the former pacer took a walk down his memory lane from when the Men In Blue took on their arch-rivals, Pakistan.
Team India’s 2003-04 tour of Pakistan is easily one of the bigger highlights of Balaji’s career which was halted multiple times due to injuries. The right-arm fast bowler represented India in 8 Tests, 30 ODIs and 5 T20Is between 2003 and 2012.
Nehra, while speaking about the series against Pakistan, claimed that Balaji was the most impressive character for him on and off the field even though there were numerous highlights including Irfan Pathan’s hat-trick and Virender Sehwag’s triple century in Multan from the tour.
‘He was more popular than Imran Khan’
“Those six weeks he was hitting sixes left right and centre there was no doubt about it.”
“Virender Sehwag triple hundred, Rahul Dravid double hundred, Irfan Pathan performance, all that is there but to me off the field, Pakistan, the nation as a whole and Laxmipathy Balaji in the dressing room,” Ashish Nehra told Star Sports during an interview.
Ashish then went on to add how there might be chances that Balaji was more popular than Imran Khan back during that particular tour.
“In the dressing room, Irfan can give you more stories, the only thing I remember is Laxmipathy Balaji on that particular tour. Maybe that time he was more popular than Imran Khan,” he added.
In the 5-match ODI series, Balaji smashed 45 runs while batting at no.10 at a blistering strike rate of 160.71. The Chennai-born cricketer managed to score 36 of his 45 runs in boundaries (6 fours and 2 sixes). That left him only 44 runs behind former PAK skipper Shahid Afridi in the series, who had an inferior strike rate than Balaji too.
Balaji knocked out 6 wickets with a staggering economy rate of under 6. When the two teams locked horns again for the Test series, Balaji’s form got even better as he finished the series as the joint second-highest wicket-taker with Irfan Pathan, just behind Shoaib Akhtar who bagged 7 to his name.
The medium-pacer’s economic spells paid dividends as India ended up winning the series 2-1.
Ashish regards IPL 2020
However, the clearance from Indian Government will be an issue, but Ashish Nehra is hopeful of BCCI getting a clearance from the Government. “Even if the IPL doesn’t happen in August, there are a lot of places in India that witness rains during that month and there are high chances that lots of matches will get cancelled. If things go back to normal around the world by October, we’ll have a 100% clearance,” Ashish Nehra said on the Cricket Connected show on Star Sports.
In a recent interaction with PTI, a senior BCCI official had also talked about the difficulties in organising the IPL in September. “September is the time when there is monsoon in India. Mumbai will be underwater, there could be steady rain in Chennai. It is a decision that can’t be taken that lightly. You don’t know the situation tomorrow. Let there be a sign that the curve is flattening and normalcy can return. That’s when you start discussing options,” a senior BCCI official had been quoted as saying by PTI.