CHENNAI: Former India speedster and bowling coach of Chennai Super Kings Lakshmipathy Balaji believes that this year’s IPL, that begins on March 29, will not be just about hard-hitting batsman. He feels that bowlers, especially Indian seamers and spinners, will play a big role.
“IPL is great platform for youngsters to hone their skills. The quality of the league, which is much better than some of the International T20 games, pushes players to give their best. When a young bowler rubs shoulders with some of the legends of the game, his skill-sets are bound to improve. The support staff, training sessions, travel and intense games groom a player to excel at the international level,” Balaji told this daily.
The former Tamil Nadu captain insists that the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami have improved a lot thanks to IPL stints. “After performing in the IPL, Shami’s game has gone a notch higher. Bhuvneshwar too has improved and is bowling better at the international level. But the biggest gains from last IPL are Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur,’’ Balaji added. Balaji, who is the first player to take a hat-trick in the IPL, credits MS Dhoni for the success of Chahar and Thakur. “Dhoni knows how to handle youngsters. Chahar and Thakur have benefitted from his tutelage. Dhoni has helped them mature as bowlers at the international level. He also instilled self-belief and confidence in them.” He also believes that bowlers from Australia, England and South Africa will benefit as they will learn how to bowl in sub-continent conditions and adapt to different situations.
Coming back to Chennai Super Kings, Balaji believes that they have a problem of plenty. “We are spoilt for choice. We have fast bowlers like Josh Hazlewood, Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran. We have experienced spinners in Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla. The wickets and opposition batting line-up will decide the combination we play,’’ said Balaji.Asked whether Chawla was a costly buy when the team already had Tahir and Sharma, Balaji said that CSK does not gauge a player by their price.
“During the auction, Chawla was available. He is a proven performer. He has played in the IPL right from the first edition. All three leg-spinners are different. Conditions will decide who plays. There’s no rule that we should not play two wrist spinners. Another good thing is that most of our spinners can bat too,” said the 38-year-old. He is glad to have MS Dhoni around and insists that training sessions will be lively. “It feels great to have MS back. Training sessions will be lively as Chennai is like a second home for him. The plan during the training period will be to try to bring the players into the T20 mindset both physically and mentally.”