Skipper Balaji part of the 'right team'

Skipper Balaji part of the 'right team'

 Lakshmipathi Balaji might be an accidental captain, but he most certainly is not a reluctant one.

The 30-year-old paceman was thrust into the hot seat by the Tamil Nadu selectors due to a variety of reasons at the start of the Ranji Trophy season, and has responded by piloting the team to the final, against Rajasthan beginning on Thursday. “Personally, I felt it was very important to bridge the gap between the newcomers and the seniors,” Balaji said on Wednesday morning. “I wanted us to play as a unit, to fight it out like a complete pack for the entire 90 overs of the day. The idea was to control the game, and along the way, we have overcome a lot of tough moments which shows the mental endurance of the team. We have never lost sight of the three mantras we wanted to follow – Courage, Intelligence and Skill.”

Balaji said for the first time in his 12-year career, he was part of a Tamil Nadu squad that had all the right ingredients. “We have always had very good players, but I feel for the first time I am a part of the right team,” the former India pacer observed. “This squad has taken the process to the next level. This is the most complete bowling unit I have seen, everyone knows his role. As a team, everyone believes in everyone else, and that’s what has changed the trend and the mental make-up of the side.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the team, about the right combination. I have impressed on the guys the pride and honour that comes with representing TN in first-class cricket. I want to help them out, and it is great to see the youngsters stand up when the need has arisen. That’s why the team looks strong and closely-knit, united.”

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