Ex-Tamil Nadu player goes down memory lane

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Chennai, Feb 24 (PTI) It was a trip down the memory lanefor Indian born Canadian leg spinner W D Balaji Rao as theformer Tamil Nadu player recounted his roots and exploits andalso revealed that he was hurt on being dropped from the stateRanji side in 2001.

"I played for Tamil Nadu for three seasons. I wasextremely hurt when I was dropped from the state team soonafter serving India ''A'' side. This incident hurt me very muchas I was at my peak at that stage. Besides getting the bootfrom Tamil Nadu, I also ended up as victim when Indiannational selectors choose (Narendra) Hirwani over me. It wasrather unfortunate," he said.

Interacting with the media soon after the Canadian team''straining session at the Chepauk ground, the venue where hecame into prominence playing in Deodhar, Ranji and Duleeptrophies, Rao said, "It was a privilege to play for Canada andalso to train at a venue where I grew up."

Canadian team members, who had lost their World Cupopener to Sri Lanka in Hambantota on Sunday, arrived here fora week-long practice and training sessions before leaving forNagpur for their second match against Zimbabwe on February 28.

"Playing for any country is really tough, especially whenyou move to a new country and re-establish yourself. Canadahas come a long way from where it was. Last couple of years,we have been doing really well," the most experienced amongstthe Canadian player, said.

On his shift to Canada, the 32-year old Rao clarified itwas not due to cricketing reasons but because of his mother''sillness.

"I had to choose between taking care of my mother orcontinue playing cricket. I opted for my mother as she is moreimportant," Rao, who has taken three wickets in five ODIs,said.

On the Indian team, he said it had been doing really welland youngsters were getting a lot of opportunities now.

Stating that he had played for Tamil Nadu for more thanthree seasons and then with the Railways in 1999-2000, Raorecollected the days when played alongside players like RahulDravid, Anil Kumble and in the Ranji final tie againstKarnataka in 1995-96.

"Basically all my life I have played in this ground. Inever thought I would step again on the Chepauk ground. Iplayed the Ranji Trophy finals against Karnataka in 1995-96and got three wickets. Memories of those days are justflashing in my mind and Dravid, Kumble and other seniorsplayed in the game."

When asked whether he interacts with senior Indianplayers, he said it would be tremendous if he got anopportunity to do so.

"I had chatted with Balaji (Lakshmipathy) last eveningand would be meeting Robin Singh, with whom I had played tenyears of cricket." PTI VS RE CM

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