IPL 2021: Recovering from COVID-19, Chennai Super Kings’ bowling coach Laxmipathy Balaji wasn’t bogged down by the virus. Taking a cue from India batsman Hanuma Vihari, he too lent a helping hand to those affected by COVID-19. After testing positive for the virus a day before the IPL 2021 was suspended, the former India pacer was air-lifted to Chennai where he was put in isolation alongside Chennai Super Kings batting coach Michael Hussey. But that did not stop him from helping out people with leads to oxygen supply or a hospital bed.
Laxmipathy Balaji said he was inspired by Hanuma Vihari, who has been helping out people, creating a WhatsApp group. “I read Hanuma Vihari has formed a group of 100 people who are helping people out in Hyderabad. Financial and emotional support are the best that I can give… On my part, while in quarantine, I was trying to help people through organizations that I know,” L Balaji told TOI from quarantine in Chennai.
IPL 2021: While he has been helping people with leads amid the COVID-19 crisis, he is also giving financial support to groundsmen in Chennai. With no matches and small income, groundsmen from various stadiums including MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai are worst affected.
The paceman said it was more difficult for those people and wanted to help out. “Sitting in a facility waiting for my negative report, I could feel how difficult it is for all those who are not as privileged as I am. With the resources that I have, I felt it was necessary to stand by the needy. This was absolute unknown territory and add to that what was happening all around,” Laxmipathy Balaji said.
The former Chennai Super Kings and India pacer has now recovered having tested negative for the virus twice and returned home in Chennai. His team member, Michael Hussey too has tested negative and will go back to Australia on Sunday after the country lifted India’s travel ban. L Balaji said while it was difficult for him, it was Michael Hussey who struggled more in the quarantine.
“It was probably the most difficult 10 days of my life. I was in constant touch with Mike. He is so far away from home and his kids back in Australia are old enough to understand the gravity of the situation…I could understand the immense strain that he was feeling after he contracted the virus,” Laxmipathy Balaji said.
The IPL 2021 was suspended after multiple cases of COVID-19 emerged in IPL’s bio-bubbles. While many lashed at BCCI for lax safety and security and for not conducting the tournament in the UAE like last year, Balaji did not want to blame the board.
“The confidence probably came from the successful hosting of the England series and the two domestic tournaments. No one could envisage a situation like this,” Laxmipathy Balaji said.