Arzan Nagwaswalla was not even born when Farokh Engineer - the last Parsi cricketer to have featured in the India men’s team - played his final Test for the country in 1975.
But the 23-year-old left-arm medium pacer from Gujarat created history on Friday when he was named as a standby for India’s trip to the United Kingdom - for the World Test Championship final and the Test series against England.
The youngest member of a Parsi community from the village of Nargol, Nagwaswalla is the first Parsi cricketer to break into the Indian men's team since 1975. While Engineer played his final Test for India in 1975, Diana Edulji's last game in the women's team came in July 1993. “It’s an opportunity I was looking forward to for a long time. Now that I have got it, I am very happy,” Nagwaswalla told Sportstar after the squad announcement on Friday.
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Having learned the basic nitty-gritty’s of the sport from his elder brother, Vispi, at an early age, Nagwaswalla broke into the Gujarat side in the 2018-19 season. He shot to fame with a five-wicket haul against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. Even though the cricketing fraternity took note of his performance, the youngster was largely inconsistent.
But he found his mojo in the 2019-20 season of the Ranji Trophy, scalping 41 wickets. Even though there was no Ranji Trophy last season, the youngster had a successful outing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Gujarat with 19 wickets. And that earned him a spot in the Indian side.
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“The target would remain the same - I want to stay focused and trust my skills. I believe in the process and I will continue to do so,” Nagwaswalla said.
While most of his team-mates featured in the IPL, the youngster had a long break after the Vijay Hazare Trophy and he made sure that he was ready for any challenges. “I knew that whenever I will be given an opportunity, I will make it count. I just keep telling myself that it is okay to wait, whenever a chance will come my way, I will prove my worth,” he said.
Nagwaswalla is also happy that after almost four decades, a Parsi cricketer has made it to the men’s national team. “ It is good to be a part of the community. People I know are happy and have kept in touch. It is a great feeling,” he said.
“It has been a really nice journey till now, whatever I have done till now, is a part of the process. So, if you follow the process wisely, results will follow.”
Nagwaswalla is looking forward to meeting his heroes. “I am looking forward to meeting all the cricketers and learning a lot from there,” the youngster said.
Engineer, who was the last Parsi cricketer to play in India’s men’s team, was delighted at the inclusion of Nagwaswalla. “It is fabulous news, and I am so happy that a Parsi boy has finally made it to the Indian squad. His ambition should be to play in the final XI,” Engineer told Sportstar from Manchester.
“I don’t want to see him just as a stand-by or a net bowler. I would love to see him opening the bowling for India one day. The fact that he has made it to the squad proves that he is very good. He should aim to do better,” the former India wicketkeeper-batsman said.