Faiz Fazal targets India spot after Irani Cup win

Faiz Fazal has played only once for India so far, in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2016

What's the story?

Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal is still hopeful of representing India in Test match cricket after leading his domestic side to their first Irani Cup title in the 2017-18 season. “I am hopeful of playing Test matches for India. Want to represent India again. And that’s why I play cricket. The day I think I cannot play for my country, I will quit,” Fazal told Sportstar.

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The 32-year-old opener had led Vidarbha to the most surprising of Ranji title victories in the just-concluded domestic season, beating favourites Delhi in the final. Fazal, the second-highest run scorer in the tournament, showed the way with an inspiring display with the bat himself, amassing 912 runs at 70.15 in 9 matches, including 5 centuries and one fifty. In fact, his opening partner Ramaswamy Sanjay was next on the list with 775 runs while young pacer Rajneesh Gurbani was also second in the wicket-takers' chart with 39 scalps at 17.13.

But before all that, southpaw Fazal's only opportunity to play for India had come in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2016, in which he remained unbeaten on 55, never to have played for his country again.

The heart of the matter

Two of the national team's selectors, MSK Prasad and Sarandeep Singh, had attended the Irani Cup final between Vidarbha and the Rest of India, but Fazal found no need to have a word with them personally regarding his India chances. “I am not that types who will walk up to a selector and ask them about my selection and all. All I can do is to keep performing and hope for the best,” he said.

Fazal, who hit 89 against the Rest of India side, also reflected on Vidarbha's unexpectedly successful domestic campaign, which was rounded off by lifting the Irani Cup. “Winning the Irani is like icing on the cake. Ranji win was a very special one as we had to go through those leagues and then the knock-out phase. But the Irani Cup is the biggest match of the year with the Ranji winners pitted against the best players of the country. Beating them convincingly is a very special moment for us.”

What's next?

While Fazal went unsold during the IPL 2018 auctions – though he has played for the Rajasthan Royals in the past – he has expressed the need to repeat such performances in the future in order to make winning a habit.

Author's Take

Undoubtedly, it will be extremely difficult for Fazal to squeeze into the senior India Test side with the likes of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul already competing for two slots. Moreover, tradition has mostly seen India opt for younger legs rather than cricketers at a relatively higher age. But perhaps the one positive which Fazal can draw about his chances is the recent struggles of all three openers, with India constantly changing from one combination to another.

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Edited by Tanya Rudra
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