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Family worried about Balaji's injury

September 19, 2004 20:25 IST

When one visited Lakshmipathy Balaji's home soon after the Indo-Pak series in April it was filled with flowers and greeting cards; people from the neighbourhood were pouring in. There was a smile, not to mention great pride, on the faces of Balaji's mother Mallika, father Lakshmipathy and elder sister Vijayalakshmy.

Not now. All of them are worried.

Balaji was in England to play in the ICC Champions Trophy. The family would talk to the 22-year-old seamer every two days. He sounded extremely buoyant as he was proving to be India's lethal weapon along with left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan.

But one day, as they watched him bowl during a match, his mother noticed a change in him. She saw pain on his face, and instantly sensed something was wrong. Immediately they called him, and he confirmed that he was having pain in the lower abdomen while he bowled.

"Please take care and see a doctor immediately," they told him.

Soon it was in all the papers that Balaji has a growth in the pelvic region, because of which he would have to sit out of the upcoming Test series against Australia and South Africa.

The news shattered the doting family.

"We just hope and pray that the growth is not serious. We will come to know about it only after he reaches here [Chennai]. He is particularly depressed because he is going to miss the current series and the coming Test series. Yes, it is very unfortunate that he was injured when he was doing so well. Anyway, we can't do anything about it.

"I console myself with the fact that all these things happen in sport. Yet, it is very disappointing. Whenever I think about his injury I feel sad. I don't know why it has to happen when he has just started his career and is performing well," said Balaji's distraught mother.

Like his parents, Balaji's sister Vijayalakshmi, who follows her brother's career closely, is equally worried.

"We are tense and worried because he is undergoing the treatment alone and there is no way we can help him. The only input from us is through the phone calls that we make more often these days. We know how disappointed he is because he could not participate in the Champions Trophy, which is like the mini-World Cup."

It is his mother who constantly talks to him to boost his sagging morale.

"My mother tells him not to worry and consoles him, saying everything will be alright soon. Only she can lift his spirits, so we leave her to do that.

'We are disappointed because he is missing a chance to play for the country. Cricket is his life and passion. I know how he feels now. We are equally worried about his health too. He should be alright first; that's our prime aim," said Vijayalakshmy.

The family is waiting for Balaji to return so that they can consult a competent physician in Chennai, "most probably at the Apollo Hospital".

"If he has to take rest for some time, let him. What is more important is health and fitness. He shouldn't play when he is in pain; he also shouldn't ignore any kind of pain.

"So let him be a hundred per cent fit first, and then think of cricket. He is very upset because the team needed him now, and he has only just started his career," they said.

Even when Balaji returned after a successful tour of Pakistan his family reminded him not to rest on his laurels but continue working hard so that he can cement a place in the team.

His mother believed then that his willingness to give more than a hundred per cent to the game would make him successful. Even now, as she prays for his speedy recovery, she is sure he will come out of the crisis stronger.

"I go to the nearby temples everyday and pray. I do poojas in his name. More than that, I am all the time praying to God to make him healthy fast," she says.

Along with Balaji's family, the whole country is also praying for the ever-smiling pace assassin.

Shobha Warrier in Chennai