Kings XI Punjab’s Glenn Maxwell might have overshadowed Virender Sehwag with three match-winning knocks so far in this Indian Premier League, but the team’s senior pacer Laxmipathy Balaji feels a “special knock” is long overdue for the out-of-favour India opener.
While the Australian stole the limelight with knocks of 95, 89 and 95, Sehwag looked a pale shadow of himself managing scores of 19, 2 and 30.
Balaji said one “special knock” will turn things around for his former India team-mate.
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“We are waiting for a special knock from Viru (Sehwag). So far we have been overrun by Maxwell. But it’s amazing to have Maxwell in the side. He is a great talent but we also should not forget the contributions of (David) Miller, (Cheteshwar) Pujara. It is very important for us to believe in ourselves as a unit,” Balaji told PTI from Abu Dhabi.
“Definitely he (Sehwag) has got starts but we are longing for a big innings from him. He is such a player who can change the complexion of the game on his own and if he and Maxwell can fire together it will be a treat to watch. I feel it (a big knock) is not far away and it will come over the course of the tournament,” he said.
Kings XI witnessed a dream start having won all their games so far, but Balaji warned his team-mates against complacency.
“Definitely a great start to the season. There is no mantra as such we just tried to keep it simple. We did nothing extraordinary but of course we have got extraordinary players to deliver, especially Maxwell and some of the big hitters.
“As a group we know what are the demands to be fulfilled on a particular day. Definitely, we have got the momentum and how we take forward this momentum, is very important,” he said.
Balaji said the team was still working on small things that could make a difference.
“It’s a long tournament. There is nothing called a good start. We have seen all the boxes which need to be fulfilled. There are some of the areas which we are working hard. We are focusing on small, small things that will definitely enhance our performance on the field.
“There are three segments in the tournament – first part, second part and the final phase. We have got a good start and from here we have to take it to the middle part. We will take is phase by phase.”
In Mitchell Johnson, Kings XI possess a fearsome pacer, though he is yet to fire in the tournament. However,
“It’s been great. We are enjoying everyone’s company. We are gelling really well. Johnson is phenomenal. There is nothing like senior or junior in the team. Whatever information and knowledge we have, be it on the field or off the field, we are sharing for the team’s benefit. Right now we have a very good bunch of bowling unit.”
“He (Johnson) is a very important player for the team in terms of what kind of influence he brings on to the field. In this format everyday is a different day. It keeps changing but having Johnson is something every team would have wanted,” he said.
Balaji last played for India in ODIs in 2009 and his last T20 International for the country was in October 2012. Since then the lanky Tamil Nadu medium fast bowler has been living in oblivion with the likes of Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma grabbing the slots in the pace bowling department.
But ask the ever-smiling Balaji, 32, and he is still hopeful of wearing the India colours one last time.
“I enjoy playing cricket and definitely have an ambition and a dream of making a comeback. Everytime I take the field I wish I will be able to play for the country again.
“If it was not there definitely I won’t be playing, I won’t be bowling right now because motivation is something which has to drive you. Playing for India is the biggest thing on the earth and you want to play for India again and again,” he signed off.