Maintaining rhythm crucial in NZ - Balaji
Indian fast bowler Lakshimpathy Balaji believes that finding his rhythm would be the key to his success during the tour of New Zealand. Back in the Test squad after nearly four years, Balaji said he was not perturbed either by the conditions or the varying tracks there.
"Of course it is going to be challenging, particularly because of the weather," he told PTI. "But as an international cricketer, I am confident of adapting to the conditions.
"The atmosphere around or the conditions of the pitch does not affect me or my rhythm. So as long as I keep my rhythm, other things will fall in place. I just need to be focused on my job - maintaining the line and length and taking wickets."
Balaji agreed that most of the players had no prior experience of playing in New Zealand but felt the seniors would help overcome the problem. "I know the weather conditions will be windy and harsh in New Zealand," he said. "Many players are making their first trip to New Zealand, but seniors in the team, who have been to New Zealand on many occasions -- like Sachin [Tendulkar], [Virender] Sehwag and others -- are there to guide us."
Balaji was happy with the way his body had responded from a stress fracture that threatened his career and believed he had regained his lost touch. "Since recovering from the stress fracture and a back surgery later, I have bowled over 400 overs in domestic cricket," he said. "I have got back to my old ways of bowling."
His comeback began with the inaugural season of the IPL where his 11 wickets in nine games for the runners-up, Chennai Super Kings, included a hat-trick. He was also instrumental in taking Tamil Nadu to the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy this season, with 36 wickets from seven games at 17.50.
The performances proved decisive, as he was called up as a replacement for Munaf Patel during the tour of Sri Lanka earlier this month. Less than two weeks after being recalled to the one-day side, he was named in the 16-member Test squad for New Zealand.
"I am now 100% fit and bowling well since the IPL tournament last April," he said. "I have worked harder than before during the last year and have also increased the workload for optimum levels. Now my body has responded well to the calls and I'm feeling pretty good. I believe in myself and I will surely give my full effort to ensure good results."
India will be playing two Twenty20 internationals, five ODIs and three Tests on their tour of New Zealand which extends from February 22 to April 7.