Navdeep Saini is the name doing rounds ever since the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year. He featured in the tournament for the first time under Virat Kohli‘s captaincy and shocked a batsman like Shane Watson in the opening game itself with his pace. A 151 kph bouncer was hit flush on Watson’s helmet and the Aussie was stunned lying on the ground. Fast forward to July 21 and he was picked in the Indian limited-overs squads for the West Indies tour.
This is not his first call-up to the national side. He made it to the Test squad last year for the game against Afghanistan but didn’t get a game. This time, with Jasprit Bumrah rested, there is a serious chance that the cricketer from Karnal, Haryana will wear the blue jersey for the first time in his career. Navdeep Saini’s story is very much interesting and two people should get the credit for his rise.
Gautam Gambhir backed him to the hilt after watching Saini in the Delhi nets. But Sumit Narwal was the one who brought the talented cricketer to Delhi after looking at him bowl in the Karnal Premier League – A tennis ball tournament. Saini used to earn Rs 200 per match by playing in such tournaments then.
Saini hadn’t played any leather ball cricket till 2013
Navdeep Saini hadn’t played any leather ball cricket until 2013 according to the Times of India and it was Sumit Narwal who spotted the talent in him during the tennis ball tournament organised by him. Narwal, the former Delhi pacer, was impressed with Saini’s pace and the cricketer’s next stop was in Delhi nets where he immensely impressed Gautam Gambhir.
The former India cricketer used to arrange a pair of shoes for Navdeep Saini and asked him to be a regular in the nets. Gambhir even fought with the Delhi selectors to get the pacer in Delhi’s Ranji team and finally, Saini was included in the team in the 2013-14 season.
Navdeep Saini hasn’t looked back since then and has 120 wickets in 43 first-class matches to go with 65 scalps in 41 List A outings. He completely deserves a place in the Indian team and it will be interesting to see how he fares in West Indies during the six limited-overs matches, especially in the ODIs.
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