L Balaji, IPl 2017, KKR bowling coach, KKR, Kolkata Knight Riders
Lakshmipathy Balaji.IANS

Former India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji has been appointed as the new bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the franchise for which he had also played from 2011-13. Balaji is one of the fresh appointments for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017

Read: List of players retained by KKR and other teams 

Balaji, 35, replaced former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, who will miss IPL 2017 due to personal reasons. This is considered to be a smart move by the KKR fraternity as Balaji knows most of the players in the squad as well as the coaching staff.

The former pacer, who has played 8 Tests, 30 one-day internationals and 5 T20 internationals for India between 2002 and 2012, believes that KKR are a solid team and can win the IPL for a third time. After failing to impress in the initial years, KKR won the 2012 and 2014 editions of the IPL, both under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir. Balaji was part of the team which won the title 2012 by defeating Chennai Super Kings.

"I have had three fantastic years with the franchise, and now to be part of the team as their bowling coach is a huge honour," Times of India quoted Balaji as saying.

"I know everyone in that dressing room and have had the pleasure of playing alongside Jacques Kallis (the current coach). When you look at the team, it has a good bunch of boys who are keen to do well and having won the title before, they know what it takes to be a champion again."

In this age and day of cricket when teams keep specialist support staff in every department, Balaji's role will be to help the bowlers. He will use his experience to guide the bowlers to deliver.

Balaji, who played a key role in India's historic series win againt Pakistan in the arch-rivals' den in 2004, said it is all about grooming the bowlers and ensuring that they maximise their potential. "Having been a part of the IPL, I know what a bowler goes through and the rigours of this sport. I hope to be able to share my insights with the bowlers," the bowler, who was often called the smiling assassin during his playing days, said.

Besides Andre Russell and Umesh Yadav, KKR does not have much ammunition in the form of pace battery for the upcoming season of the annual cricket carnival. Balaji will hope that KKR gets some quality fast bowlers during the players' auction in February.