The selectors in a surprise move replaced the injured Munaf Patel with the “smiling assassin” Laxmipathi Balaji. This move is no doubt remarkable for so many reasons. Most importantly, it is a sign that domestic performances count for selection to the national team. Balaji has performed exceptionally in the domestic circuit and has worked his way back to the team.
Secondly, its a welcome sign than those who have performed at the highest level of the game are not ignored when they are hit by major injuries. After a fine performance on the Pakistan tour a few years back, the promising Balaji has struggled to get back from his injury and prove that he is capable of still performing at the international level. There was no question that he had the promise and the potential. Unfortunately, he was hit by major injury and has been in the wilderness for the last three years (barring his performance in the IPL). Coming back after being away from the game for a long time is a challenge in itself. Being constantly ignored can make it worse. The selectors and captain Dhoni deserve credit for recognizing Balaji’s return to reckoning.
Last but not the least it keeps the current crop of fast bowlers in the Indian team on their toes, knowing that the bench strength is constantly knocking on the doors. I can’t remember the last time when India had a fast bowling bench strength of the likes of R.P. Singh, Sreesanth, Gony, Umesh Yadav, to name few.