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Former India fast bowler Laxmipathy Balaji appointed as the bowling coach of KKR

Laxmipathy Balaji
Lakshmipathy Balaji. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Two-time Indian Premier League champions Kolkata Knight Riders have appointed former Indian international pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji as their bowling coach for the upcoming 2017 season. The right arm fast bowler, who retired from all forms cricket last year, will be replacing Pakistan legend Wasim Akram. The 50-year-old has cited professional commitments and time constraints for his inability to be with the team this season.

“I have loved the camaraderie in KKR team and have enjoyed every opportunity to mentor the highly talented team over the years. I am surely going to miss being part of the dressing room but I wish the team continued success,” Akram was quoted as saying in the press release.

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Akram has been a member of the KKR coaching staff since 2010 and had previously taken similar a break for personal reasons in 2013 in order to spend more time with his family. Ironically, his absence was felt as the side finished seventh overall.

Meanwhile, Balaji has been a highly revered name in the IPL, having previously represented three franchises – Chennai Super Kings Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders. The 34-year-old, who hails from Tamil Nadu, played 73 matches in his IPL career after debuting in the inaugural season for the Chennai Super Kings.

His stint with KKR during the 2012 season will remain special for him as admitted by the cricketer himself. Although he did not produce multiple headline-grabbing performances that year, his economical spells impacted his career positively and led to a short revival of his international career as he was recalled to the Indian team for the World T20 in 2012. He last played in the league in 2014 season for the Kings XI Punjab and bowed out with 76 wickets including an IPL hat-trick, 3 four-wicket hauls and one five-wicket haul.

Speaking about the announcement, KKR CEO Venky Mysore said, “It’s great to welcome Bala back to the KKR family. He was an integral part of KKR from 2011-13 and played a key role in helping KKR win the championship in 2012.”

Reacting on his new role, Balaji said, “I had thoroughly enjoyed my stint as a player for KKR and I am delighted to be back to the franchise that I have admired.”

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