Lakshmipathy Balaji opened up about recovering from COVID-19 on Friday, comparing the ordeal with an episode of the adventure show “Man vs Wild”.
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) bowling coach was among the prominent non-playing staff to test positive when the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 was indefinitely suspended on May 4. The tournament was suspended after four players — Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman Wriddhiman Saha, Delhi Capitals spinner Amit Mishra, and Kolkata Knight Riders bowling pair Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier — tested positive for COVID-19 in the bio-bubble.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, the 39-year-old said, “On May 2, I was feeling a bit of uneasiness. I had 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.”
“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.”
“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,” he added.
Along with Balaji, CSK batting coach Michael Hussey had also tested positive for the virus. Subsequently, the franchise had brought them to Chennai from New Delhi in an air ambulance for proper 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 Team India in 8 Tests, 30 ODIs, and 5 T20Is during his playing career.
“Once in Chennai, the anxiety that had gripped us in Delhi had been replaced by confidence.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 a dire situation outside. We were fortunate to be under better care. Eventually, I returned home on May 14.”
After Australia lifted its two-week ban on its citizens returning from COVID-ravaged India, Hussey returned home on May 17 after recovering from COVID-19.