Lakshmipathy Balaji, the Indian fast bowler currently on a cometrack trail from injury, will not be rushed back into competitive cricket, Tamil Nadu coach WV Raman has said.
Balaji, who has been out of first-class cricket for more than a year owing to a stress fracture in his back, was expected to return for Tamil Nadu's third round Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka but is apparently far from match-fit.
"I cannot put a finger on Balaji at the moment," Raman said on the eve of Tamil Nadu's second round match against Mumbai in Chennai. "He is bowling with a resurrected bowling action and he will have to get used to that first."
Raman said Balaji would have to play at least one two-day game to prove his fitness. "A two-day match could be organised soon for him to get his rhythm back. Importantly, he should be able to stand in the field for 90 overs at least. If he feels fit on the third day, then he is on the right track."
Balaji last played for India in 2005, during the Indian Oil Cup in Sri Lanka, and has since been sidelined with a stress fracture. He returned for last season's Irani Trophy match and took part in the Challenger Trophy in Chennai as well.