L Balaji, the former India fast bowler, who was out of competitive cricket with a stress fracture for nearly one and a half years, has been included in the Chennai Super Kings squad for the Indian Premier League.
"I'm happy with the progress, but it's an ongoing process," Balaji told the Hindu. "I still need to play more competitive cricket. I'm taking it step by step." He last played an international in August 2005 against Sri Lanka in Dambulla. Balaji said he was happy to have been picked by the Super Kings but he wasn't sure how much he would get to play in this edition of the tournament.
Balaji was set to return to first-class cricket this season, after having missed most of the previous one, but Tamil Nadu decided not to rush him back. He spent time remodelling his action and played in the first division league. Balaji also went to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore to have his fitness monitored.
"It works both ways," said VB Chandrasekhar, the head of cricketing matters for the Super Kings, of Balaji's inclusion in the squad. "When he's fit and bowling well, it's good for us, while the IPL is a platform to continue his comeback."
Balaji has also been picked in the Tamil Nadu squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, an all-India knockout one-day tournament.
Tamil Nadu squad: S Badrinath (capt), M Vijay, Dinesh Karthik (wk), S Anirudha, Arun Karthik, R Ramkumar, R Prasanna, M Sivakumar, S Vidyut, C Ganapathy, R Ashwin, P Amarnath, Yo Mahesh, Suresh Kumar, and L Balaji