That endearing grin is back. It's been a long time since Lakshmipathy Balaji played for India, and a recall to the national squad, even if just to fill in for Munaf Patel, has given a new lease of life to his international career.
"I am really happy, my hard work has paid off," said the medium pacer. Balaji spent three years in the wilderness nursing a career-threatening back injury he sustained in England in 2004. He returned after almost a year, only to lose his place again after playing an ODI against Sri Lanka in 2005.
Incidentally, he will start his career from where it went off course. "Yes, that's true…I hope it goes much better this time around," he said.
Talking about his comeback, Balaji said he hadn't set any targets. "I just want to bowl well," he said, sounding confident about his form and rhythm. "The spell against UP in the Ranji Trophy semifinal gave me the confidence that I can last longer. Another spell against Bengal was also special. I just kept the ball in the right areas," he said.
The Tamil Nadu bowler is not losing sleep over his form and expectations that everyone will have of him. "I am moving the ball well and am not bothered about pace as of now. Pace is just an extension of the rhythm and I am pretty happy with my progress," he said.