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Ajinkya ‘bhaiya’ asked me if I could bowl with injury, I had to say yes: Navdeep Saini | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: A groin strain prevented India pacer Navdeep Saini from giving his best in the Brisbane Test but fearing that he may not get such a big a stage again, he remained at the beck and call of his captain and ended up bowling five overs despite injury.
The 28-year-old, who finally made his Test debut in the Australia series after years of wait, said he risked aggravating his injury by bowling in the second innings but given what was at stake, “it was a no brainer”.
“Ajinkya bhaiya asked me If I would be able to bowl with the injury, I just had to say yes,” Saini, who was in the middle when Rishabh Pant hit the winning runs at the Gabba, told PTI.
Having taken four wickets in his debut game at Sydney, Saini suffered a groin strain in Australia’s first innings and could bowl only 7.5 overs at the Gabba, increasing concerns for an already injury-hit India, who were forced to go into the game with a bowling attack which had the combined experience of four games.
For someone who made a massive leap of playing Ranji Trophy for Delhi in 2013 straight from making a quick buck in tennis ball cricket across Haryana, Saini wondered about the timing of his injury as he had just realised his dream of playing Tests.
But the like of the rest of his teammates, he showed a steely resolve and carried on.
“I was fine and suddenly I got injured. I was wondering ‘why it is happening in such a crucial game and have got the opportunity to play after a long time’.
“I just wished if could keep going with that injury and support my team. I knew I might not get a stage like that again. Captain asked me if I could do it. I was in pain but said I would do with whatever I could.
“I am recovering now and should be fit soon,” said the lanky fast bowler from Karnal who was fastracked into first-class cricket by former India opener Gautam Gambhir and received his maiden Test call-up in back in 2018.
Saini, who has also played 10 T20 Internationals and seven ODIs, is not part of India’s squad for the first two home Tests against England starting February 5 in Chennai.
Out of his four Test wickets, the first one was most special as he trapped another debutant, Will Pucovski, in front of the stumps with a full and fast incoming delivery.
“All wickets were special but yes you can’t forget the first one. Because until that happens, you keep thinking about that first wicket.”
With senior bowlers like Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav out of the series, the pressure to perform instantly had increased on the likes of Saini, who had not played Tests before but had a substantial experience of playing IPL and shorter formats for India.
Having not bowled with red-ball in Australia ever prior to the series, Saini said it was an enriching experience.
“It is easy to get excited in Australia with the bounce on offer. It is natural to think about bowling short balls then but Test cricket is not only about that, it is about patience and bowling in the same channel consistently.
“To be able to do well in Australia, you have to be mentally very strong, they don’t give up till the every end. The management was very supportive including the captain and Rohit bhaiya. They all told me to bowl the way I would bowl in Ranji Trophy,” said Saini, who is back home after five long months in the world of bio-bubbles.
Mohammed Siraj, the find of Australia tour in coach Ravi Shastri‘s words, was seen counselling Saini consistently in the latter’s maiden Test. It helped the Delhi pacer immensely as he and Siraj go back a long way.
“He is one of my best mates. We have played a lot together (for India A). We talk a lot about bowling. He was always there for me in the first game. Pace is important but he was telling me to also focus on line and length to be effective.
“Siraj is a very different bowler. He showed a lot of courage by staying back after his father’s death. What he achieved was very crucial for the team and showed his character.”
Talking about his extraordinary journey, Saini, son of a bus driver, said he never planned to be a professional cricketer, it was only fate at play.
“I played with tennis ball for the major part of my growing up years. It all started when I played Ranji trophy. That is when I felt I could play professionally. Before that I was just playing without an aim, I had no idea. It all happened step by step after I played for Delhi,” added Saini.


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First defeat for Indian women’s hockey team on tour of Argentina | Hockey News

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BUENOS AIRES: Indian women’s hockey team suffered its first defeat on the tour of Argentina when it lost 1-2 to B side of the host, letting Agustina Gorzelany strike late in the match.
Sol Pagella (11′) put the Argentina side while Indian forward Salima Tete (54′) scored in the final quarter.
However, the Indian defence let Gorzelany score three minites after finding the equaliser.
In the previous matches, India drew 2-2 and 1-1 respectively with the Argentina junior team.
“Today we played against a stronger Argentina squad consisting many of their senior players.
“This was a perfect practice match for us ahead of next week’s schedule where we play against the Senior side. Unfortunately, we conceded a PC goal minutes before the regulation time and this is what we need to manage better,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
India began on a backfoot with Argentina ‘B’ playing tough, attacking hockey right from the start. Conceding two back-to-back PCs within six minutes of play and putting pressure on the visiting side but the Indian goalkeeper Rajani did well to save the goals.
In the 11th minute, however, a fierce circle penetration and well-timed strike by younger Sol Pagella put the home team ahead by 1-0.
With a strong defence put up by the Argentinian women, PCs were hard to come by for India and circle entries were restricted too. Though India managed to earn a PC in the 23rd minute, dragflicker Gurjit Kaur‘s attempt to equalise was well saved by the opposition’s goalkeeper.
It was a battle India had to fight hard against a strong Argentinian forwardline as they earned two more PCs in the 43rd and 51st minutes. But India’s PC defence held sway to ensure the lead was not further extended.
In the 54th minute, when India bagged a PC, an alert Salima Tete swiftly struck the ball off a rebound into the goalpost fetching her team a much-need equaliser.
The sturdy home team upped their ante in the following minutes with a circle penetration that resulted in a PC. This was the deciding moment as an experienced Gorzelany converted the goal in the 57th minute to seal the match.
India will next take on Argentina ‘B’ on Sunday.


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Team India to plan against England in week-long quarantine period | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: The India team will spend a week in quarantine ahead of the England series early next month during which they will plan their approach against the England team, said a member of the team staff.
“We have done exceptional job in Australia (where India won Test series 2-1). We have savoured, enjoyed each and every moment, every part of our success. But we need to forget this, leave this behind, look forward to the future of England tour. We would have our plans for it. We have time. We have to quarantine for a week before the series and that is when all the planning would be done,” said India bowling coach Bharat Arun.
India play a full series against England beginning February 5. The first Test will be held in Chennai from February 5-9. The second Test will be at the same venue from February 13-17 before the action moves to Ahmedabad for the last two Tests (Feb 24-28 and Mar 4-8).
That will be followed by a five-game T20I series in Ahmedabad and three-game ODI series in Pune.
“We are quite aware that England are a very tough team. We will have to be at our best to beat them,” added Arun.
“For us, every match is a huge challenge. Can’t really say England batting is better than Australia. Australia, we played them in their home conditions. I would like to quote what colleague Sridhar had said earlier – ‘it took us two days to forget the 36 all out. Yes we were depressed, we had to put that behind us and work on the future and move on’. That is what we will do against England.”


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