A few feet away from the National Cricket Academy, where he has spent many injury-rehabilitation stints in the past, L. Balaji turned on the heat inside the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
After his four for 18 helped Kolkata Knight Riders ambush Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL match here on Tuesday, the seamer, intense on the field without being abrasive and genial off the park, said: “You need three things to do well at this level — courage, skill and intelligence. This is a format in which a good ball can be hit, so you just got to stay calm.
“Credit is also due to Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis for the way they bowled and all that helped me to gain a nice rhythm and everything worked towards our team's victory.”
Balaji praised the positive influence of bowling coach Wasim Akram, psychologist Dr. Rudy Webster and Lee. “You keep learning little things and all these help you improve and perform at your optimal level. Wasim and Lee have helped us a lot and I have had a session with Rudy. You learn about staying calm and also focus on the small things that help you and the team,” Balaji said.
Meanwhile Daniel Vettori had mixed feelings about the way the match evolved. “When we walked away at the break, we were pretty pleased with our effort in restricting KKR because at one stage they threatened to get past 200.
“We did not start well (in the chase) and you got to credit the fine bowling effort of KKR. Lee and Kallis did will and then Balaji got those wickets of Kohli and AB de Villiers and once you lose five wickets upfront then it is a lot of hard work to catch up,” the RCB captain said.