Indian first-class cricketer Navdeep Saini was fantastic with the ball during the Ranji Trophy semi-final, picking 7/90 against Bengal to help Delhi to reach the final of the First-Class tournament for the first time in 10 years. With this superb performance in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 season, the 25-year-old medium pacer gave a chance to his dream to fly high after suffering so many injuries in his career.
Saini’s, who made his First-Class debut in 2013 for Delhi, but his career was not on the track, as the bowler struggled with multiple injuries in his miniature cricketing career. During the 2014-15 domestic season, Saini suffered a stress fracture that forced him to stay away from action for almost half a year.
The lanky pacer admitted that injuries hampered his performance in the last couple of years, but said his strict workout routine and ‘extended’ practice sessions have helped him bowl at a sharp pace consistently and given him a lot of confidence to take his game to a new level.
He has gained the attention of the national selectors due to his outstanding ongoing Ranji season, where he is Delhi’s second highest wicket-taker with 29 wickets in seven games.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Navdeep Saini said, “Injuries hampered my performance in the last couple of years. I used to play 3-4 matches and get injured. During the 2014-15 season, I suffered a stress fracture in my back and it took around 5-6 months to recover.”
Saini, who plays for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, further added, “Till last year, I felt that I’m a normal Ranji Trophy player. I didn’t have the confidence. But with the hard work I’ve put in over the last 8-10 months, I know things have changed. I’ve extended my practice sessions by half an hour (from two hours to two and a half hours). Going to the gym has helped. Ahmed Nasser, my personal trainer, takes care of everything, from fitness to diet. He has played a big role in my success this season.”
While praising Delhi team’s fitness standards, he said, “Sometime back, say last year, the fitness levels (of Delhi players) weren’t up to the mark. But this year, the change has been immense. If we are told at night that we have to undergo the Yo-Yo test next morning, I’m sure most of the players would clear it.”
On being asked how’s the mood in the Delhi camp ahead of the final against Vidarbha, he replied, “We’ve reached the final after 10 years. I think that’s a big thing. It’s a proud feeling. Everyone is upbeat. We are a young side and that’s an advantage.”
He went to further added that Gautam Gambhir –the senior-most member of the Delhi team also advised him ahead of the title clash against Vidarbha, saying, “Gauti bhai has been brilliant. He has told me just one thing -- This time will never come back. You have to be at your very best. If you can help your team win the trophy, your life will change.”
Saini, who clocked above 140kph consistently this season, reveals to CricketNext that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson are his Idols and he never compromises on his pace. He concluded by saying, “My idols are Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, I want to be known as an aggressive bowler. I want to concentrate on my pace as well as the line and length. I will not compromise on my pace.”