Navdeep Saini was the star behind Delhi's victory over Bengal in Ranji Trophy 2017-18 semifinal. Saini destroyed Bengal by taking four wickets in the second innings and routing Bengal for just 86 and helping his side to win the game by an innings and 26 runs.
He has credited Gautam Gambhir for his success. As per Indian Express' reports, the pacer hailed the former India opener Gambhir and said that he was a nobody and Gautam Gambhir did everything for him.
“I owe this life and my success to Gautam Gambhir. I was a nobody and Gautam bhaiyaa did everything for me,” Saini was quoted by PTI.
Indian team will play South Africa next year. Saini was scheduled to leave for South Africa as a net bowler with the Indian cricket team, but Ankit Rajpoot of Uttar Pradesh was sent. Saini revealed it was a conversation with Gambhir that cleared his confusion.
“I was happy that I would go to South Africa but I called up Gautam bhaiyya. He said Delhi needs you now for the semi-final and if you do well, you will be automatically in that Indian dressing room. I didn’t think twice,” said Saini.
We know Gambhir has helped a lot of youngsters in his domestic side to gain confidence. He even had a spat with the Delhi coach because of the same reason, as per his statement.
Navdeep said Delhi cricketers supported him when questions were being raised about his inclusion in Delhi squad. Saini was spotted in a tennis ball tournament by Delhi pacer Sumit Narwal and he asked Gambhir to try the young lad.
“Gautam bhaiya, Ashish bhaiya (Nehra), Mithun Manhas rallied around me. They said what’s happening in the periphery shouldn’t be my concern. We will take care of that, you only bowl,” he said.
The seamer did enough to trouble the Bengal batting line up.
“I can’t build on muscles as I will lose out on the pace I generate due to my quick hand speed. This is my USP from start. Since I could bowl fuller deliveries with tennis ball, it helps with leather ball as it generates extra pace,” Saini explained.
Recalling his early struggle, Saini said it was difficult to start for him earlier, but things have now changed a bit.
“It was difficult in the beginning but now things have changed a bit. I stay with my friends in a rented accommodation in Kotla Mubarakpur. I still go back home by Volvo bus. I haven’t bought a car,” Saini, son of a former Haryana government driver, said.
Saini’s grandfather, Karam Singh, was a driver in Subhas Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj and he has heard plenty of stories from the “nearly 100-year-old” man.
“Dadaji is nearly 100 years. He was in Japan with Netaji. I have heard stories so many times that at times, I slip away,” he said cheekily. “But he loves me and is aware when my match is coming on television. Today he watched me bowl,” he said.