Former Indian pacer and team Chennai bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji revisited his brief battle with the COVID-19 virus, and has likened the ordeal to an episode of the English TV show ‘Man vs Wild’.
Balaji was one of the prominent non-playing staff to test positive for the virus, following which the Indian T20 League was suspended.
In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, the 39-year-old gave a breakdown of his recovery from feeling the symptoms to contracting the virus and the subsequent anxiousness around his family.
“On May 2, I was feeling a bit of uneasiness. I had a body ache and a mild nose block. I was tested the same day. By May 3 morning, I had tested positive. I was shocked. I had done nothing to breach the norms to endanger my and the rest of the bubble’s safety,” Balaji said.
“As I was isolating on my own, a thought crossed my mind: recovering from COVID-19, both physically and mentally, is like experiencing an episode of Man vs Wild,” he added.
“Was I scared? Initially, I could not express my feelings. It took me 24 hours to sink into the seriousness of the issue once family and friends started to message. I started to get worried. From the second day in isolation, I realised I had to monitor myself, recording all the health data. I was obviously anxious,” the former fast bowler stated.
Besides Balaji, batting coach Michael Hussey also tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and the duo were flown to Chennai to undergo treatment.
“With the situation very bad in Delhi, the CSK management was proactive and flew both Hussey and me in an air ambulance on May 6 to Chennai where we had round-the-clock medical care. It was a crucial and timely step,” said Balaji, who represented India in eight Tests, 30 ODIs, and five T20Is.
“Once in Chennai the anxiety that had gripped us in Delhi had been replaced by confidence. Mentally we became positive. I started to constantly exchange messages with Hussey and we realised that many were in dire situation outside. We were fortunate to be under better care. Eventually after spending about close to 12 days I returned home in Chennai on May 14,” he added.
Lakshmipathy Balaji considers his COVID-19 battle as a journey of survival, while feeling lucky that the Chennai franchise swiftly made arrangements to get treatment.
“I realise now how lucky I was and that was because of the timely help of my franchise. It was a huge effort to get exemptions, clearances to shift us from Delhi to Chennai. But there are people out there who are waiting for hours and days on end to get help. We have to put in all our efforts to reach out and help out. Lives are at stake.”
Featured photo: AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI