Navdeep Saini is the rare-breed of fast bowlers that can continuously bowl at 150 clicks. With deadly toe-crushing Yorkers and an elaborate slow ball at his disposal, Navdeep Saini is being touted as the next big thing for the Indian team.
Cherry-picked by Gautam Gambhir from the practice nets of Delhi, the Karnal born Navdeep Saini and his rise to the top has been nothing short of a fairy-tale journey. The lanky, wry looking pace bowler has impressed everybody with his raw pace and deadly accuracy. Coming from humble beginnings, Saini is currently one of the brightest stars in the cricketing horizon.
Navdeep made his first-class debut at the age of 21 on December 14, 2013, at Roshanara Club Ground during the 2013-14 Ranji season. DDCA Selection Committee was skeptical of his selection and even disapproved of it because he was from Haryana and not a player from Delhi. However, Gautam Gambhir backed him and forced the selectors to go ahead with his selection in the playing XI.
Gautam Gambhir was told about the prodigal talent of Saini by Delhi cricketer Sumit Narwal who had seen Saini bowl deadly Yorkers with tennis balls. Saini was being paid Rs 200 per match and Narwal immediately called up Delhi captain Gambhir to check him out at the nets.
What Gambhir saw at the nets was enough for him to get into a heated argument with then DDCA vice president Chetan Chauhan, to get the player from Haryana into the Delhi team.
The young speedster has bowled one of the most devastating spells of recent times in Indian domestic cricket when Delhi humiliated Bengal by an innings and 26 runs to enter the Ranji Trophy final in 2017-18.
Navdeep Saini after being scouted by Gautam Gambhir in the domestic circuit was lapped by up Delhi Daredevil’s franchise in 2018. He didn’t get many chances in the franchise and a year later went to Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019. A fierce bidding war ensued for Saini and he ultimately got sold for a whopping amount of Rs. 3 crores.
Saini played 13 matches in the season and picked up 11 wickets. However, his sheer pace and accuracy impressed almost everybody and soon calls began to grow for Saini to be drafted into the Indian team.
Saini’s impressive performances in the T20 format also earned him an ODI cap in the series against West Indies at home. He hustled his first ODI victim, Hetmyer for pace and bounce, and then set up Roston Chase and knocked over his stumps with a peach of a yorker.
With an impressive Indian bench strength of pace bowling already present, Saini making his way through the ranks has been nothing short of a miracle story.
Playing under the watchful eyes of the Indian skipper Virat Kohli for RCB, Saini’s impressive performances in IPL 2019 earned him a national team call-up.
Saini was making his debut for India in the T20 format. Playing against a T20 powerhouse in West Indies, Saini never looked out of place. He first bounced out Nicholas Pooran and then dismissed Shimron Hetmyer off the very next ball. He added to his wickets tally as he got the prized scalp of the well-set Kieron Pollard for 49. His 3-wicket haul earned him the Man of the Match award on his international debut.
A year on from his breakthrough season in the IPL, Saini has turned into a formidable pace option in the international arena for the Indian team. The rise has been nothing short of meteoric. Considering that the Indian team boasts of one of the best pace attacks in the world, Saini’s emergence as an option in the famed bowling line-up is a testament to his skills.
After raking up impressive performances in the ODI and T20 team, Navdeep Saini was drafted into the two Test squad for the tour of New Zealand. Navdeep did not got a chance to don the white flannels in the series but he had finally broken the glass-ceiling.
Navdeep Saini was born on 23 November 1992 in Karnal, Haryana. Coming from a humble background, Saini, son of a former Haryana government driver, has his feet firmly rooted to the ground. His father, a driver, was employed with the government of Haryana. His grandfather Karam Singh, an independence activist, was a part of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army.