If we ask you to pick three emerging bowlers (Indian) of this season’s Indian Premier League, which name comes first to your mind? Shreyas Gopal? Rahul Chahar? Jofra Archer? Well, the one name that may have easily skipped through your mind is Navdeep Saini.
Pace and accuracy are the two prime factors when it comes to bowling in cricket. A fast bowler must hone these two traits to become an effective bowler. And this 26-year-old pacer has it all.
Saini, who started his career from a little place of Karnal in Haryana, now has become one of the shining stars of Indian bowling. The young Indian fast bowler has impressed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) plying his trade for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Although Virat Kohli and Co. have had a horrible campaign, Saini’s antiques with the ball has impressed the cricket fans. His ability to set the pitch on fire by firing consecutive 140+ kmph deliveries is his standout feature. Saini’s impressive form in the league has convinced BCCI to choose him amongst the four net bowlers for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Here is the inspirational story of Navdeep Saini, India’s fastest Indian bowler at the moment:
Date of Birth
November 23, 1992
Teams Played for
Delhi, India- A, Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Navdeep Saini was born in November 1992 in Karnal, a city with 2.87 lakh population in Haryana. He hailed from a family which was not financially strong. His father worked as a driver in the Haryana Government.
At that time his family couldn’t quite afford fees for a cricketing academy. Hence, he used to practice the game with tennis balls. Navdeep couldn’t even managed to buy a pair of sports shoes. Playing in the Karnal Premier League which was conducted by Delhi pacer Sumit Narwal, Saini impressed quite a few people. From there Navdeep Saini never looked back.
Entry in Ranji Trophy
Having honed his skills playing tennis ball tournaments, Navdeep once went to see the Delhi Ranji team practice at the Roshanara cricket ground in Delhi. Sumit Narwal spotted Saini in the Karnal Premier League before Gautam Gambhir took note of his talent in Delhi. The veteran opener watched Navdeep bowl for over 15 minutes and immediately had him drafted into the Delhi team.
Gambhir had several run-ins with the selectors because Navdeep came from Haryana (not in Delhi) and was considered an ‘outsider’. However ultimately, the he was successful in getting Saini on board. Also, Navdeep had not taken part in any form of league cricket associated with the Delhi District Cricket Association. But battling all odds he made it to the Delhi side. He repaid the faith shown by Gambhir by taking 34 wickets in the 2017-18 season. Saini was a constant member of the Delhi side in the last Ranji season (2017-18) and was among the top five wicket-takers.
His performances in domestic circuit opened several doors for him. He was called to bowl at the India nets before the South Africa tour (2017) and the Sri Lanka series at home and eventually found a place in the India Test side IPL for the one-off Test against Afghanistan on the place of injured Mohammed Shami.
#Navdeepsaini The more I see of him, the more I think why he is not there in the World Cup squad..
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) April 24, 2019
Indian Premier League
He was a part of Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2017 after being bought at his base price of Rs 10 Lakh. In the 2018 auction, Royal Challengers Bangalore spent ₹ 3 crore on the pacer but he was benched all throughout the season. This season, the 26-year-old made his debut against Chennai Super Kings. He has clocked the top speed of 150 kmph on multiple occasions this season.
Out of the top 5 fastest deliveries by an Indian in #VIVOIPL – Navdeep Saini occupies 1st, 3rd and 4th positions. Bold achievement, Saini! Watch out for more, everybody. #PlayBold pic.twitter.com/iPBiW3YfOl
— Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) April 23, 2019
Role of Gautam Gambhir
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#I Am So Grateful That You Took Me Under Your Wing And Made Me Realize My Ambition. Your Leadership And Example Has Helped Me Grow Into My Potential. I Would Not Be Where I Am Today Without You. This Legend Will Be Missed Hard By The World Of Cricket… Irreplaceable… Unmatchable… You As A Leader, As A Cricketer, As A Mentor, As A Family… And Of course As A Human? You Always Have Been A Best Teacher And Mentor Not Just To Me But To Many Such Youngsters… Can't Get Better Than Sharing Field With You And Playing Along And Under … What All You Did For Me By Always Holding My Hand Is Impossible To Pay Back… I Truly Would Want To Be A Disciplined, Rightful, Helping, Loving, Fearless, Courageous Human Like You… Moments You Delivered For The Country And The World Are Immense Special Like You… Truly Wish The Best Of The World For You With Your Family And Friends… Will Miss You Bhaiya… Will Always Be Connected? #Unbeaten #ThankyouBhaiya
In an interview with Times of India, Navdeep stated “I owe this life and my success to Gautam Gambhir. I was nobody and Gautam Bhaiya did everything for me. I was happy that I would go to South Africa but I called up Gautam Bhaiya. He said Delhi needs you now for the semi-final and if you do well, you will be automatically in that Indian dressing room. I didn’t think twice and didn’t travel to Africa”.
Coming from a humble background, Saini, son of a former Haryana government driver, has his feet firmly rooted to the ground after 29 first-class games and an IPL contract with Delhi Daredevils. “It was difficult in the beginning but now things have changed a bit. I stay with my friends in a rented accommodation in Kotla Mubarakpur. I still go back home by Volvo bus. Haven’t bought a car yet,” he quoted once to the leading media network.
The 26-year-old pacer has 120 wickets in 44 first-class games. He had earned a call-up to the India A side against South Africa in 2017 and picked 7 wickets in 2 matches.
Saini was selected in the Duleep Trophy and also for India A side that took on New New Zealand A. He made it to Irani Trophy and Deodhar Trophy as well.
Lesser Known Facts
- Navdeep Saini’s grandfather Karam Singh Saini was a subedar and a jeep driver in Indian army.
- He always dreamt to become a cricketer but couldn’t afford the cricketing kit thus he started to practice the game with tennis balls.
- Saini was being paid ₹ 200 per in local tournaments.
- He has a wolf tattoo on his left arm.
Navdeep Saini brings variations into play and can swing the ball. He also delivers mainly on the fuller side of good length and can surprise batsmen with the yorkers. Saini bowls quickly, above the speed of 140 kmph and has a whippy action and quick arm speed that he traits to his familiarity with the tennis ball.
The technicality of fast bowling is something Saini admits to not having much idea at the early stage but he surely has developed his knowledge after playing many games. Navdeep Saini has all the ingredients to be a pacy Indian bowler who can make it big on the international front. He only needs to dream big and continue to prove his instinct in the domestic cricket. The day is not far away when we see him don the famous blue jersey.
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