Saini wants to shine

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3

Pace bowler Navdeep Saini, cooped up in his Karnal house, has a set routine — running drills, gym work and helping his father in tending to their farm. Saini, 27, said he is looking forward to watching the England-West Indies Tests and pick up clues on how to keep the ball shining without using saliva. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

How did you stay fit during the lockdown?

The first thing I did was to set up a gym in my house. I used to go to our farm, where I would do my running exercises. Since the government allowed opening of stadiums and training centres for sportspersons, I visit Karan Stadium to do running and also go to Cricket Academy of Karnal for practice.

Are you in touch with India bowling coach Bharat Arun regarding when you guys could start playing again?

We haven’t been told about how things will start again, but we are in touch. He (Arun) keeps asking about what I’m up to, what I’m doing to stay fit. He is keen for me to keep doing running drills.

The England-WI Test series starts on July 8. Looking forward to watching it, especially in view of the ban on use of saliva to shine the ball?

I will definitely watch the series! This series will be doubly important as we’ll be able to see what all is happening on the field. The first live match will give us a lot of ideas or clues by seeing how they are preparing the ball, how they are keeping the shine without using saliva.

The ball will still change hands among players… Is this a worry?

It won’t be a problem. I think players will be tested and if they are cleared, only then will they be allowed to play. The ball will be touched by the players, this cannot change. But I don’t see a problem if everyone follows the guidelines.

Are you satisfied with your performance in India colours so far?

I am satisfied. The most important thing for me is to give my all for whichever team I am playing. I keep thinking that I could have done much better (after a match). But everything is a learning process for me right now, I try to pick new tricks from others.

The most difficult period in your career?

It would be my ODI debut against West Indies in Cuttack. It was a little tough for me. I was picked up straight from a Ranji match and asked to join the team. You don’t get the time to adjust… One day I was playing with the red ball, the very next day after nets with the white ball, I was told I was playing! It was a little different, but thankfully things went good for me in that match.

Is Virat Kohli a bowler’s captain where he lets you or others set the field?

Virat bhai supports the bowlers, always. I have played under him at Royal Challengers Bangalore and now with the Indian team. The good thing about him is that he keeps communicating with the bowlers. There are always chats about bowling plans and what fields to set. This is great encouragement for a young bowler like me.

Your journey is very interesting — picked up out of nowhere for the Delhi Ranji team, now representing India. Any message for youngsters?

Just not to lose hope. Give it your all, both in training and in matches. Keep the fire burning and hope you can make it big. I also want to request senior players that if you see a youngster with talent, do your best to help.

Some feel you don’t get your due from DDCA. Do you feel the same?

I don’t think that’s right. I think I was provided everything that a cricketer needs. In fact, I think I got more than what I deserved.

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