The Indian fast bowling strength is at an all-time high. Not only are the lead actors like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami at the peak of their powers but the supporting cast, as well as the next-generation leaders of the pace-group, is also taking every opportunity that is coming their way. And, so gone are the days when the team-management used to rely on one or two individuals.
Another example of it was completely evident in the last game when young Turks like Navdeep Saini took up the responsibility of leading the bowling attack. After getting hit for ten runs in his first over, the youngster came exceedingly well in his last three overs where he bowled with sustained pace and aggression with the speed-o-meter consistently clocking above 145 kmph mark. Saini was hostile, aggressive, accurate and relentless. And, former Indian opener and Saini’s mentor- Gautam Gambhir-is chuffed to bits.
The left-hander compared Saini’s bowling to a healthy Sensex and also said that Virat Kohli must be feeling like a millionaire with the amount of fast bowling talent he has at his disposal. “Like a healthy Sensex is indicative of a thriving economy, Navdeep Saini’s form indicates that systems in Indian cricket are robust and productive. His story was devoid of direction and purpose but now his life and bowling has both,” Gambhir wrote in Friday’s Times of India.
“The spell that he bowled in Indore in the second T20I against Sri Lanka must have left captain Virat Kohli feeling like a millionaire. Besides Saini, Kohli has Jaspreet Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and a revitalized Ishant Sharma to shape his attack. While I don’t like to look too much into the future, India’s fast bowling resources will make them proud,” added Gambhir.
Gautam Gambhir has played a pivotal role in Navdeep Saini’s career
Gambhir has played a huge role in shaping the career of Navdeep Saini. The southpaw was instrumental in ensuring that Saini played for Delhi despite stern opposition from the likes of Bishan Singh Bedi. Saini was first spotted by former Delhi cricketer Sumit Narwal when he saw a young rookie fast bowler jamming yorkers one-after-the other with a tennis ball. Saini was being paid Rs 200 per match in the Tennis ball tournament. So impressed was Narwal that he immediately called-up the then Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir was so impressed with what he saw that after seeing Saini bowl for 15 minutes, he decided to back him to the hilt. Gambhir also revealed how Saini was reluctant in playing leather-ball cricket and how the cancellation of his tennis-ball tournament paved the way to what is now history.
“Saini was introduced to me by my Delhi teammate Sumit Narwal during the 2013-14 domestic season. I was trying to make it back to the Indian team while captaining the Delhi team. We were always on the lookout for quality fast bowlers. Narwal got Saini to bowl at a net practice of the Delhi Ranji team. But he almost didn’t make it to that practice session. Narwal later told me that Saini was keener on playing a tennis-ball game rather than bowling as a net bowler of the Delhi Ranji team,” Gambhir added.
“Destiny had something else in store. Saini’s tennis-ball match got cancelled and he called up Narwal late that night to say he will accompany him to Feroze Shah Kotla. Narwal had noticed Saini, a lean young boy, in Karnal Premier League and other local cricket tournaments. Apparently, he was sold for Rs 2100 for 4-5 games! It’s a different story that five years later RCB picked up Saini for Rs 3 crore. I will leave out the multiple appreciation mathematics to you.”
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