A day after getting his maiden Team India call-up for the upcoming Afghanistan Test, pacer Navdeep Saini received support from his Delhi teammate and India opener Gautam Gambhir, who took a dig at former India cricketers Bishan Singh Bedi and Chetan Chauhan, who considered him an "outsider" from Haryana and questioned his selection in the Delhi squad.
"My ‘condolences’ to a few DDCA members, @BishanBedi @ChetanChauhanCr on the selection of ‘outsider’ Navdeep Saini to India squad. Am told black armbands are available in Bangalore too for INR 225 per roll!!! Sir, just remember Navdeep is an Indian first then comes his domicile @BCCI," Gambhir said on Twitter.
Saini had managed to impress the key players from the national capital and sneaked into the Delhi Ranji team despite initial resistance from some of the DDCA officials.
My ‘condolences’ to few DDCA members, @BishanBedi @ChetanChauhanCr on selection of ‘outsider’ Navdeep Saini to India squad. Am told black armbands are available in Bangalore too for INR 225 per roll!!! Sir, just remember Navdeep is an Indian first then comes his domicile @BCCI— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) June 12, 2018
Gambhir, after watching him bowl for 15 minutes, had decided that Saini was a rare talent, who should be groomed properly.
There were people who witnessed how Gambhir literally lost his cool during the net session when despite his repeated insistence, a Delhi selector (a distinguished former India opener) didn't even make a passing glance at Saini's bowling.
However, known for being stubborn, Gambhir got him into the team despite revolt from a notorious section of DDCA officials, who had distributed pamphlets, questioning Saini's eligibility, when he was marking his run-up for his first ever over in Ranji against Vidarbha.
On Monday, Saini thanked Gambhir, adding that he gets emotional whenever he thinks of the India opener's role in his career.
Saini had never bowled with a red leather ball until one fine day he got a chance to bowl during Delhi Ranji team's net session at the Roshanara cricket ground on a pleasant December morning in 2013.
Till then, Saini had only played tennis ball tournaments to earn a pocket money ranging from a meagre Rs 250 to Rs 500 per match. He didn't have an idea what he should be doing with the Red SG Test ball but Gambhir came to his rescue.
"Gautam bhaiya told me 'Jaise tennis ball se dalta hai, waise hi dal. Koi tension nahi. Baaki sab theek ho jayega' (Just bowl like you bowl with a tennis ball. Everything will fall in place). I did what he told me and today I am here because of him. I don't know whenever I speak about Gautam Gambhir, I get emotional," an elated Saini told PTI after receiving his maiden call-up to the Indian senior team for the Afghanistan Test. (Read full story)
(With PTI inputs)