The 2000-2001 season marked a revival of fortunes for WD Balaji Rao who made a precocious entry into first-class cricket before turning 17, only to disappear into the wilderness soon after. Playing for India Youth in January 1995 against an England A team which had six past or future Test players, he mopped up seven wickets. Just one day later, he was rushed into the Tamil Nadu side for a Ranji Trophy clash with Kerala. Part of the India Under-19s for four years, Rao toured England, Australia and Sri Lanka and played South Africa at home. After spending three seasons with Tamil Nadu, he accepted an offer to play for Railways in 1999-2000, but with little success.

Returning to Tamil Nadu next season, Rao collected 19 victims in the zonal league to become the leading strike bowler for his team. Rao has a lively action, a workmanlike trot being followed by a swift roll of the wrists quickly despatching the ball out of his fingers. His googly, which turns a fair way, is his main weapon and he believes this is because batsmen can't see his fingers at the point of delivery. A key member of the South Zone team which finished joint winners of the Deodhar Trophy in December 2000, Rao took four wickets to pull the rug from under holders North Zone in the semis. In the final, he showcased his abilities as a more than useful bat, slamming an unbeaten 31 off 20 balls to tie the game from an impossible position. He later migrated to Canada and qualified to play for the country, making his international debut against West Indies in August 2008.

Balaji was in and out of the team for the next three years but solidified his place ahead of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. He was among the top spin bowlers in the first round taking nine wickets. Cricinfo