Snappy Q&As with the players

L Balaji

'The whole Gaddafi Stadium was chanting my name'

L Balaji got plenty of fans when he toured Pakistan in 2004. Shoaib Akhtar wasn't one of them

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi

December 18, 2012

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

Lakshmipathy Balaji strikes quickly on the fourth morning, Pakistan v India, 3rd Test, Rawalpindi, 4th day, April 16, 2004
L Balaji's favourite bowled dismissal: uprooting Kamran Akmal's stump in Rawalpindi, 2004 Jewel Samad / © AFP
Related Links
Players/Officials: Lakshmipathy Balaji
Teams: India

Is it true that Imran Khan was your idol?
He was one cricketer I had heard a lot about during my formative years. I enjoyed watching him during the 1992 World Cup final. As a ten-year-old, I would try to imitate his action. I read about him and took posters of his from old Sportstar magazines that I found at used-book shops.

So it was nice to meet him in person on India's 2003-04 tour of Pakistan. He came up to me during a function and said he enjoyed watching my outswinger. I could not stop telling him how fascinating a bowler he was for me while growing up. It was a dream come true for me to meet him. He also said I had a nice smile. I could not stop smiling after that!

Tell us something we do not know about you.
I look reserved but as a child I was very naughty, and my mother would always worry about what I might have done, since I would climb trees to pluck mangoes, guavas, fall down, secretly fly kites from the terrace of our apartment building and come home having hurt myself. I have had a lot of stitches in my childhood.

Ours was an academics-oriented house, and my two older sisters are engineers, like my dad. But I would lie and skip tuitions to join my friends to play gully cricket. My passion for cricket was born out of there.

Has your smile ever got you in trouble?
My sisters and close friends always tease me and say how is it that my smile started making headlines when they never noticed anything about it that stood out.

I had jaw surgery once and the alignment of my teeth gives people the impression that I'm always smiling, even while facing a 150kph delivery from Shoaib Akhtar. Of course, I didn't smile then!

What hurts more: a fellow fast bowler, a tailender, hitting you for a six or a specialist batsman hitting you for a six?
Definitely a tailender hitting me for a six, because the team would be expecting me to wrap up the innings. Unfortunately anyone can hit you for a six with those heavy, meaty bats in the market today.

Has Shoaib Akhtar forgiven you for hitting him for a six in the Test at his home ground, Rawalpindi, in 2004?
He never forgot. On Pakistan's return tour of India in 2005, he said, "I still remember your six, okay? I have to give it back." He would repeat the line wherever he met me, on the ground, in the lifts at the team hotel...

Your best five-for?
On the first day of the first Test of the 2005 series against Pakistan, I took 5 for 76. I got one wicket in my first two spells but with the second new ball I wrapped up the lower middle order and the tail. It was a fulfilling day of cricket. A fast bowler looks for where he has enjoyed the whole day and balanced his workload to get the five-for. I remember getting the fifth wicket in the last over of the day. It was a satisfying experience.

Who is the toughest Indian batsman you have bowled to?
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. There is nothing like a good-length ball or a good ball for them. That is the feeling I get as a bowler from the way they bat. They adjust and adapt quickly to the bowler's lengths.

Crowds love chanting your name since it rolls off the tongue easily and has a rhythm to it. Can you give us an instance of when the crowd egged you on to raise your level of play?
It happened during the final match of the ODI series in Pakistan in 2004. The whole Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore was chanting my name. I was surprised to see a foreign crowd do that. In India you only hear the names of Sachin and Sourav mostly, but never Balaji. The series had been tied 2-2 going into the final match, and Moin Khan was standing strong and threatening to take the match away. But the crowd got me going and I managed to bowl Moin and win the series.

What is the best bowled dismissal you have had?
I still have this picture of sending Kamran Akmal's stump flying on the fourth day of the Rawalpindi Test. I bowled an incutter, he missed the line and the ball hit the stumps. We celebrate any time the ball rattles the wood but the beauty about this wicket was the stump flying over Kamran's head. To this day I get excited when I look at that picture.

What kind of a batsman is the most difficult to bowl to?
Someone who reads the bowler's strengths well and adjusts accordingly. Mahela Jayawardene is that kind of batsman. He will make you change your fields and has an advantage because he plays all the shots.

If cricket has taught you one thing, what is it?
You have to get up after you are knocked down. Even if you do not have the talent you need to be resilient. That has helped me stay strong each time I have been sidelined by injury or when I have been walloped for a lot of runs in an over.

How do you relax?
Once every year I go to a wildlife sanctuary, just to be in the middle of nature. It is an amazing experience. I am not interested in photography. I am more keen to just be there and relax.

R Ashwin told us he is a huge Rajnikant fan. What about you?
First-day first-show for a Rajni movie was a must for me as a schoolboy. Once, my friends and I tried to get into the first show of his movie Veera. We went to Rohini theatre in Chennai and saw thousands waiting outside. Luckily we had a friend who worked with a Rajni fan club. He managed to get us tickets and take us in. I still remember the first half hour of the movie: everything that Rajni did or said made the fans go berserk. It was such an electrifying experience and it still gives me goosebumps.

Did you ever use Rajni lines to inspire your team-mates?
Not really. But I use his words as an example whenever I am speaking to schoolkids. Rajni, along with APJ Abdul Kalam [former president of India] and AR Rahman [music composer] are three personalities from Tamil Nadu who have a wider reach and have inspired people not only in India but outside. What these three have taught is that it is not only the art you are involved in, but how you sustain yourself and how you take success and failure in your stride, and keep fighting and go for the bigger goal in life.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by spiritwithin on (December 20, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

@wakaPAK,outside Asia Sachin also played in Zim but his average there is the lowest at 40 among all places,so without counting zim sachin's average infact goes up,and his combined average in aus,eng and SA is 52,and these three r the toughest to tour for asian batsman (at present)and they r also a quality side,so ur argument of using zimbabwe makes no sense..sachin maybe struggling at present bcoz he's no more the young player but that does'nt hide away the fact that he's a supremely talented and great batsman,many regards him as the best after Don and those many includes most cricket legends...

Posted by wakaPAK on (December 20, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

@g.narsimha We have won 31% of test we played compared to India's 24. We won 16 test against WI and lost 15, India lost 30 tests against WI and won 14. Pak was the only hard nut to crack during WI dominance era. Miandad 46 runs average is outside asia which means it's not against India if I include India it should go up. Tendulkar averages 50 outside asia and Tendulkar played Zimbabwe too. Here's another stat. If you lose toss and you are asked to bat it means the pitch is good for bowlers especially when the pitch brings result (the match is not drawn) Tendulkar averages 37 on such pitches and Miandad.... 50. I'd say Gavaskar, Vengsarkar and Viswanath were the best of India. Tendulkar? He's in the 2nd category with Laxman/Dravid. and please dont bring ODI stats, ODI is flat like Carrom board.

Posted by Narbavi on (December 20, 2012, 8:31 GMT)

@getsetgopk: Not denying the greatness of Imran Khan, nobody would do that, but in that case other people would come and say even Botham did something similar with bat and ball, its not that kallis played against weak bowlers or something, he is playing in an era where great bowlers like Kumble, murali ,warne, mcgrath ,vaas wasim waqar, shoaib and many others were involved!! opinions differ no doubt!! For me personally those stats of kallis can't be ignored for an imran or a botham or a gary sobers or a tendulkar etc when we talk about the greatest!!

Posted by g.narsimha on (December 19, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

wakaPAK- Iwas not at all indened ,demean r players but the way few of INDIA haters from PAK post demeaning coments on our greats we tempt to resond i know our heroes dosnt need certificates from people like kiwirocker or letsetgopak or lilianthomson they are legends on thierv ownright & if one billion admires that metter rest is just nuisence , reg -MIANDAD ur stats are not in confirmity with facts his home ave-in near70 against his carier ave of 49 in AUS HE WAS POOR HE MIGHT HAD PLAYED FEW INNINGS IN FOURTH INNING butSACHIN AWAY AVE-55 , HE MAINTAINED IT IN AUS ,ENG, HE TOO FACED MARSHAL, &CO , + U R GREAT BOWLERS BUT MIANDAD feasted on weaker IND bowling that too only in pak he was not that much seccessful in INDIA IJUST mentioned his stas to ccounter above mentioned gentlemen who madeit an single agenda of demeaning indian cricket & our players some time talking highly of MIANDAD , U R OTHER CONTENTION THAT U had great bowling , than where are the results no series win in wi,

Posted by Last_ride on (December 19, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

I am a Saffer i normally never even bother about these Pages. But the reason i came here is Pakistans next visit to South Africa. I have no doubt that Pakistan well give us a though fight.But on the other side i know that it is going to be very difficult for them. I will be the first to admit that they have a very good bowling attack.But the pitches for sure will not help Ajmal and Rehman. Junaid Khan remains there best hope. But come on Pakistans biggest weakness is their batting. I really dont expect there Batting to last long against Dale steyn and Co.So as it happens my prediction 2-0 to South Africa.Sorry to spoil the India pakistan fun.

Posted by wakaPAK on (December 19, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

@ g.narsimha: Miandad outside Asia averaged 46, Tendulkar avrages 50 so no big difference. Batting in fourth innings is difficult especially when the match gives you result (because the pitch is not flat), Tendulkar averages 34 while Miandad averages 54 in 4th innings in matches which resulted in draw. And in those matches which their teams lost where you were supposed to stay for long in 4th innings and bat and the lost result also meant the opposition bowlers were good, Miandadad averages 36 while Tendulkar average 23. Miandad batted in golden era of bowling with all the laws favoring bowling and you could bowl as many bouncers as you could; it was the era of Lillee, thomspson, Marshal, Holding , Hadlee, garner,colin croft. Miandad averaged 38 in 80s against WI with Border averaging 46 the highest and Gavaskar 41. We know Miandad is great but we dont boast too much of our batsmen because there are others who were better than Miandad but in bowling department Pak have are the best.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 19, 2012, 10:41 GMT)

@Narbavi: Hmm... not sure if thats the right question you should be asking a Pak fan as you know bowling is our strength and we dont need that many runs on the board to win. Ind on the other hand needs batters with above 50 averages just to remain competitive and take a match to the final day. However, since you asked, Azhar Ali averages 46, Asad Shafiq and Hafeez 42 and the worst of them all Umar Akmal shares the same average as Kohli after same number of matches i.e 38, poor even by our standards. Maybe he will get better but as of now, i'll rather have my doubts. The moment you put a few fielders around the bat and choke the freedom, his confidence falls apart and he looks clueless, you gota love test cricket! And as far Kallis, im aware of his record, but seriously you shouldn't be comparing based on the hundreds and runs scored, less cricket was played in those days. IMRAN played against Lilly, Holding, Garner, Viv etc and stood out, GREATEST, would you not say so?

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

An excellent read, enjoyed alot............... I never liked Bala ji but this article has changed my perception about him.... Best of luck in life from Pakistan

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 19, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

RakeshBajaj: You should not pick selective matches to disrespect great sportsmen. Waqar Younis had 374 wickets in 85 test matches at an average of around 22 runs. Kapil Dev had 400 wickets in 678 test matches. Waqar Younis had one of highest strike rate for his wickets. He was a superb swing bowler. Most of wickets that Wasim Akram took were because of Waqar Younis. Pakistan's best ever fast bowler was Imran Khan..Hands down, but second best has to be Waqar Younis. Yes, indeed, Waqar younis lost his length and went for few in world cup QF in 1996...But Anil Kumble went for 27 runs against Saeed Anwar in one over in Independance Cup in 1997. Kapil Dev was hit for 19 runs in nehru cup by Imran Khan. Shahid Afridi took Anil Kumble to cleaners for his 45 ball hundred in Kanpur. Shahid Afridi also hit Harbhajan Singh five consective sixes in one test match in 2006. That does not make any of these bowlers a bad bowler. They just had a bad day! This article is about Bala Ji not Waqar Younis!

Posted by Narbavi on (December 19, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

@getsetgopk: Agree with u but still at the age of 37 playing all 3 formats, still bowling at around 140 when required and then ofcourse his batting is just too special, 44 test hundreds, almost 13k test runs and more than 10k odi runs and together almost 600 international wickets, at one point he used to open the bowling while batting at no.3 but as years passed his workload has been eased, and did u say kohli is not test match material? really? tell me how many pakistan batsmen at the moment are scorching the test arena?

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 5:37 GMT)

An excellent interview, shows the simplicity as well as the genuineness. Also shows his understanding of the game as he credits different players instead of the sycophantic statements crediting Sachin for everything as mouthed by other players.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 19, 2012, 4:23 GMT)

@Narbavi: No arguing with personal opinions but Imran's best decade as a bowler he averaged less than that of Sydney Barnes, its 18.17, Barnes played in 1907, thats as far as records on cricinfo go. There is an article in the cricinfo's stats section by that wonderful guy Anantha, showed that Imran was the greatest bowler since people started keeping cricket records. In his last ten years, he averaged 50 with the bat, ask Boycott or Chappell about the greatest captain ever and you'll hear IMRAN's name. So clearly, the best bowler and the greatest captain ever. He played most his cricket on dead subcontinental wickets, Kallis is not taking wickets on these pitches (no offence). His 40 wickets in 3 tests against IND is yet to be matched elsewhere. The mighty windies of 80's couldn't beat his team, thats fairy tale stuff and a reason why ppl like Balaji running around with his posters. He's not done yet, philanthropy and fighting for rights of his ppl off the field. IMRAN is the GREATEST!

Posted by US_Indian on (December 19, 2012, 1:20 GMT)

Naidu aka balaji- dude if you read this comment you might remember me. It was not just you, even me and other guy we all three had a huge imran khan effect and people used to call us Amar-Akbar-Anthony if you could recollect even though i was the youngest and had a fair resemblance to Imran with the hair style, color and narrow chin and much faster too but unfortunately i could not make to much higher level but I am glad that you made it and even now you could be the answer to the indian quest for a fast bowler even though you have lost a bit of pace but occasionally you hit the 140kph mark but it is more your control, variety, and reading of the batsman which could be of use now that ZAK is fading out, if the selectors can do that favor to indian team and unfortunately both srinivasan and srikanth didnt do you any favors even though they pulled all their might in giving some mediocre players more chances, I also pity Badri who didnt recieve any encouragement from these two guys.

Posted by da_man_ on (December 19, 2012, 0:01 GMT)

Lol that's right Rakesh Bajaj, you just keep dreaming of events over 15 years ago as facing the current state of affairs is too painful. Regarding Balaji, I actually used to hate the guy because he always took wickets against Pakistan. Having said that, he seems a nice genuine guy, and may Pak fans get to chant his name again. Wish you success L Balaji.

Posted by marlboro19 on (December 18, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

Both hindi and urdu are patently indian, so it doesn't even matter.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 18, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

@Extraz: Your comment is full of CLASS. I hope most Pakistanis are like you. This is what I expect from both sets of fans during this series. Friendly chat and banter compared to hate and bitterness displayed by people like KiwiRocker.

Posted by TRAM on (December 18, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

I do wish Bala gets more strength and pace and gets in to Indian team. He is one of the cleverest bowler today in India esp for limited overs. We appreciate his courageous captaincy for TN state last year, chasing 4th innings high asking rate in Ranji match at the risk of nearly losing the match - Such chases were never heard of in Ranji history.

Posted by PricelessPak on (December 18, 2012, 16:46 GMT)

kiwirocker, r u an Indian trying to portray wrong pictures of Pakistanis... ? I really have my doubts. We do not think like that mate, take it easy

Posted by rakeshbajaj101 on (December 18, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

We are not worried about wat akram and waqar said, both of them didnt saw anybody's dream which shane warne did....nothing to say after that....the name of waqar reminded me of WC 1996 QF....which reminds me of aamir sohail too..

Posted by   on (December 18, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

That's how the structure of an article can change opinions - the article started with a very friendly and positive note. What if it starts with the Kamran Akmal wickets and Best Five-for? Few people might end up with different opinions then. The Primary/Recency concept is neatly used to make it worth reading. Not taking away anything from person himself though, its a "feel-good" article so is this guy, Balaji. Decent guy! Decency is most appreciated trait in your rivals' camp - few players (and people commented) on both sides of the border should learn.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

i must say a very simple cricketer

Posted by LordOfCric on (December 18, 2012, 14:15 GMT)

Seriously interveiw of Balaji, A very medicore bowler with no pace and accuracy. He is one of those guys i always love watching agaist Afrid. Afridi did destroy several indian bowers career such as: Mohanty, Kurvilla, Balaji, Chuhan..... Those were the great days of cricket.

Posted by frozendilemma on (December 18, 2012, 14:15 GMT)

this guy has a really genuine smile...The whole Urdu/Hindi debate is never going to get settled so I`m not going to take any sides but I remember in a test match I saw in Lahore where Pak fans were chanting for Makhaya Ntini as he took four wickets...So I guess they respect genuine people...and it was good to see that Nitini responded back and thanked the crowd...It was a really nice gesture on his part coz in the same match they were booing the other bowler Andre Nel guess why ?

Posted by Narbavi on (December 18, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

@getsetgopk: Wrong you are!! Kallis is the greatest!!

Posted by bluefunk on (December 18, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

looks like it's going to be a warm december. well, no other visitors quite match up to the ones from across the border, so hopefully some of the crowds will chant 'akmal' or 'jamshed' this time. may the best team win.

Posted by CricIndia208 on (December 18, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

pakistan are in for the thrashing of their lives next week when they tour India. waiting for it. LOL!

Posted by Bruisers on (December 18, 2012, 11:38 GMT)

@KiwiRocker- Man, seriously you never seem to get off Sachin's back.. Every single Indian article, you bring up "Tendulya".. Are you such a big hater of him or what?

This is what WASIM said in 1999: "I dont know what to bowl at him. I bowled an inswinger and he drove me through covers of the front foot. Then I bowled an outswinger and he again punched through covers of the backfoot. He is the toughest batsmen I've bowled to. He should live long and score lots of runs, but not against Pakistan"..

This is what the overrated WAQAR said: "Certainly the best I've seen... People talk of Bradman, but our generation and the ones immediately before us didn't get to see him. Sure, he has an astounding average (99.94), but of the cricketers I've watched, Sachin's the best"

Please post reliable facts here, mate... Stop hating, it's just a game. Cheers!

Posted by g.narsimha on (December 18, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

get set go pak -u need not loss u r sleep over our cricket . first try to have international cricket in u r country u people are just over jealous on our domination on & off the field u cant digest our teams elevation top position ,wc cup win .now we are doing well, u got an opportunity to have a go on our team , first concentrat on u r team which could not win any thing outside UAE , NOT EVEN IN SL where we have been beating every team .

Posted by   on (December 18, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

@Everyone: The fact that Imran Khan said 'You have a very nice smile' to Balaji shows Imran is a True Pathan :).

Guys never compliment each other about their looks..ITS WEIRD !

Posted by Extraz on (December 18, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

@kiwirocker...calm down mate we pakistanis respect sachin so do most of indians respect our legends why fighting!!

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 18, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

@KiwiRocker: Not a single clue mate! Most these Indians really dont know what they are talking about or what they want. Indian cricket has become a bollywood show, created a virtual web like a mirage that India have good cricketers and that they can compete with the very best. I genuinely hope that India does well and have a strong team but you cant help someone who doesn't want to be helped. Why cant they get rid of non performers like Ghambir, Kohli (not at all made for test cricket), Sehwag, sachin, dhoni, ashwin and few others? Their media has created false hopes in such non performers, people have been saying that for years now but they would rather have these relics in their team and be happy with loosing. Why are their selectors so toothless. They are paid to look after cricket in that country, not for making a business out of cricket by hyping below par cricketers. The bollywood show recently exposed by Eng this time in India followed by a fresh dose of excuses from dhoni!!!

Posted by afaqmalik1 on (December 18, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

He might not be as impressive in the field because of his hard lucks but he really has the ability to go for the best. He is a good hearted man and this is the main thing. Never heard bad words from Balaji for anyone. I heard an interview of Gambhir in which he was saying that Afridi is this and Pakistani team is that. Raina did the childish thing when he posted bad in the twitter. Disrespect on the field might make you the good player but disrespect off the field would surely push you down from the level of humanity. This is what balaji should be telling his mates who show idiotic behaviors.

Posted by yoohoo on (December 18, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster - Actually he had an almost career ending stress fracture in the spinal cord. Nobody thought he could bowl again, but he has made a comback, albeit with a little bit of a loss of pace. He used to bowl in the mid-130s, but now bowls mid-120s. He's a very smart bowler, and is smart enough for the limited over formats I feel.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 18, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

GetSetGoPak: Did you understand what g.narsimha said? I am still trying! I agree with CPT Meanster for once that Bala Ji's name had an Urdu touch to it so Pakistani fans especially enjoy it. Actually, Pakistani fans always admire good cricket. What I do not agree is that Urdu is similar to Hindi. It is actually other way around. Most of spoken Hindi has Urdu mixed in. Real Hindi is non existant and redundant now as it had heaps of Sanskrit in it. Back to Bala Ji. Pakistani batsmen also like him. I remember when Shahid Afridi scored his 45 ball hundred against India in Kanpur..Poor Bala Ji was hit for some huge sixes, but he kept smiling. Bala Ji is a simple good natured cricketer unlike some big mouthed so called India's new generation player such as Kohli and Gambhir..A lot of hot air and no substance! Its time to review India's test status. Its getting embarrassing! Wasim Akram said Viv Richards was best batsmen he bowled! Waqar rated Lara...No one cares or rates Tendulya!

Posted by   on (December 18, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

nice interview.... balaji is my favourite cricketer...

Posted by Gladkick on (December 18, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

I'm so eagerly looking forward to the India Pakistan tour as that is the best of the best cricketing events ever. It brings out the best in those two teams and the fans of two nations too. It will be a great sight when the fans cheer for both teams holding the two flags together, panting both the flags on their cheeks, saying both the country name... It will bring out the tears of happiness and over joy. This is something that the politics can never destroy. All will be nothing but love!!!

Posted by Vivek.Bhandari on (December 18, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

I believe most of you haven't noticed the fact that the crowd was actually singing a parody of the popular chartbuster song "Babuji zara dheere chalo" with "Balaji" replaced in place of "Babuji". And, of course, his smile added to the amusement of the crowd. He was young and, thus, unknown, who did well on the tour, and the crowd absolutely loved this fact.

Posted by a1s2 on (December 18, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

kiwirocker seiously what's wrong with you?if you think your doing a good job of the usual pakistan vs india rival thing then your wrong!!!! apologies to the indians people just ignore this favourite batsman from india was dravid as i always thought that he was more harder to get out than sachin.i even remember the 1999 first test in calcutta or was it chennai i can't remember where india despite losing clapped hands for pakistan as it was a very close match.seriously it shouldn't always be india vs pakistan all the time especially in this article.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 18, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

Fine article. I bet it had more to do with his name than anything. I heard 'BALAJI' is one of the names of a Hindu god and the 'JI' at the end signifies respect. Obviously Pakistanis speak Urdu which is very similar to Hindi and the name must have caught their attention. Anyway, this man has wasted his career. Injuries are always bad but it's up to you to come back from such set backs. Nevertheless, he' still in India's plans for ODIs and tests. The problem for him is he's too slow for international standard. He only bowls 125 km/h and that's cannon fodder at this level. Hopefully we haven't seen the best of Balaji yet.

Posted by loveupak on (December 18, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

@kiwirocker seriously is there something wrong with u? always starting fights... n who says pakistani players dont admire sachin... they used to rate his wicket more than anybody else, the reason akhtar keeps blabbering about how he got tendulkar out is because he knows what a great batsman he is...the same goes for indians too, the reason they are so proud of sachin cutting akhtar for a six is cause they know how good akhtar was on his day...there is no need to fight over it

Posted by g.narsimha on (December 18, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

KIWIROCKER - I cant understand why u make u r self laughing stock by posting comodyon INDIAN THREADS . yes we respect IMRAAN , i know u cant digest a great INDIAN , every body have ups & downs i had so many times countered u r false propaganda on SACHIN claiming he only scored meaning less runs on flat tracks , his ave , is far superios than home , if scoring on flat tracks doesnt count than i believe u r yesteryear greats like MIANDAD, ANWAR ,,,,ETC cant be treated as greats as they feasted on weak INDIAN BOWLING (as u always put it to demean us)if we minus the runs scored vrs IND i dont think they even touch 20 in ave, as U R SO CALLED GREAT MIANDAD was pathetic in wi, aus , go & check the stats before comenting , reg PAK players , just few days bach i saw an interview of AKRAM on SACHIN terming him all time of his era , so we dont need certificates from people like u who cant respect others on purly non cricketing grpounds .

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 18, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Another Indian cricketer who cant stop smiling after meeting the greatest cricketer of all times. Aren't you lucky LOL

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (December 18, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

I was there at Gaddafi stadium and yes we were chanting Balaji Balaji like he is greatest cricketer ever visited Pakistan. I believe his name Balagi has great rhythm when you say it again and again and bring energy to crowd. Still remember that Balaji Balaji chanting at Lahore. Balaji went on the win that series too so thanks to that Chanting we lost the series at home because of our own home crowd. but still credit goes to balaji name.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

No wonder, Paki fans loves balaji.... I was there in the ground when india visited pak in 2005/6..........indeed whole ground was chanting balaji balaji...

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (December 18, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

yes i remember that tour .... they indian team showed up in a university and u could only hear balaji balaji ... I remember a strange look of bemusement on dravid and sachin ... yes its true balaji was a bigger star for a tour

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 18, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

Good interview. There are number of interesting points in this interview. Imran Khan is an idol of many Indians as well as Pakistanis. He was a true legenday cricketer unlike some impostors who score worthless runs on flat tracks. He actually won matches. You would never see any Pakistani player mentioning that Tendulya is their favourite. No one really rates the man highly. Furthermore, Balaji points out how sporting the crowds in Pakistan are. Pakistanis crowds appreciate good cricket irrespective of teams. In India, it is pretty bad for foreign teams. For example, Pakistani team never gets any support unless they are playing in Chennai. There is a lesson here for Indian fans!

Posted by AjaySridharan on (December 18, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

Too bad to see him talk in the past tense. Shouldn't he be working hard to get his ass back into the side instead of giving interviews! did well in 1 series 8 years ago and said he keeps talking about it!

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