Navdeep Saini, whose shyness masks his aggression as a pace bowler, is a captain’s delight. He goes about the task clinically and performs the duty his team expects him do.
Drafted in as a replacement for Deepak Chahar, Saini, who served the Indian side even before his debut, bowling at nets selflessly, impressed on his ODI debut. He returned the best figures by an Indian, two for 58 (including 30 off two in slog overs)in the third One-Day International against West Indies at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday.
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Saini, who made his T20I debut memorable by picking three wickets against the same opponent earlier this year, also proved his worth in the 50-over format. He was welcomed by Evin Lewis with two fours, including a cracking straight drive off the first ball, but the wiry pacer fought back in style as he conceded only four runs in his next three overs.
Saini came back to bowl a dream spell of 3-0-10-2 and make his mark. The dangerous-looking Shimron Hetmyer pulled him high to be caught by Kuldeep Yadav at fine leg in the first over of Saini’s second spell.
The well set Roston Chase was done in by an accurate and fast yorker in Saini’s next over as India applied brakes on West Indies’ fast scoring rate in the middle overs.
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Spotted and backed to the hilt by former India opener and ex-Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir six years ago, the bowler, who hails from Haryana, has mixed dedication with his skills to earn his place in the Indian side. “My dad always asks me to give my 110 per cent. I am putting in that extra effort always in practice sessions as well as in matches,” Saini had said after being named a standby for the World Cup-bound India squad this year.
Appreciation from Nehra
For his usefulness, the 27-year-old Saini, who recovered from injuries to make an impact for Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League this year, wins appreciation from Ashish Nehra. “He has got all the ingredients to be a good bowler. He has got the pace and bounce and the most important thing is he’s confident,” Nehra, who served as the RCB bowling coach, had said.
Saini has picked up 125 wickets in 45 first-class matches. His sterling performance should help him grow in confidence and play for the country for a longer period.
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