Navdeep Saini’s rapid rise in the last couple of years is a story that demands respect and admiration. And how could an Indian cricket fan be not thrilled to the bits when he runs in to bowl? The night at Indore was special was him. Not only did India win the 2nd T20I convincingly, it was Saini who was the architect of India’s victory and walked away with the Player of the Match award, rightly so.
Still in early days of international cricket, the 27-year old from Delhi showed why is he rated so highly. Sending down thunderbolts consistently, he had Sri Lanka on the mat with batsmen fending off his short stuff and eventually being clueless whenever he pitched it on length.
Danushka Gunathalika had his stumps rattled at a speed of 147 kmph, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa was beaten by pace and gloved it to Rishabh Pant. Virat Kohli has to be given due credit for using him wisely, making him deliver his best. Saini finished with 2/18 off his 4 overs, steaming in hard and fast with every single delivery he bowled. The economy rate stood at a neat 4.50 runs per over.
So what made his outing so eventful? All eyes were on Jasprit Bumrah courtesy his comeback to the national side after a 4-month gap, but it was Saini who stole the show with the white ball. Now that’s not an easy task, especially with the the kind of impact Bumrah has created all this while.
India’s fast-bowling department is drool-worthy and enviable and Saini’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time. He is undoubtedly the fastest of the lot and his potential at this level is unlimited, with the right minds working besides him. 2019 saw him create a wave in the IPL and the ODI and T20I debuts followed soon thereafter.
The ability to hit the deck at high speeds separates him from the rest, and it is this quality of his that has to be nurtured for a frutiful career. Tall, lanky and agile, he has never compromised on his pace, the results of which are evident in Indian colors.
Saini is still learning the tricks of the trade, but he’s learning it fast. It was raw pace when he rose to the scene, but now he understands and implements the variations too. This adaptation puts him in a spot of self-confidence and the belief to execute plans at the highest level, regardless of the opposition.
He hasn’t really put a foot in the door for the T20 World Cup yet, but with India playing a bulk of matches in the lead-up to the ICC event, Saini would be eager to make a mark and book a berth on the plane to Australia.
After all, the prospect of hitting 150kmph on Australian pitches has been a dream for Indian fast bowlers, isn’t it? Here’s the one who can make it come true. Let’s wait and watch!