Navdeep Saini’s rise from a tennis-ball cricketer to India cricketer is nothing less than a fairytale. Earlier this year, the express pacer from Delhi broke into the Indian team on the tour of West Indies after his consistent displays in domestic circuit and the Indian Premier League. However, things could have been very different had Navdeep Saini not met Gautam Gambhir.

It was Gambhir who fought against all the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) officials to make sure Navdeep Saini makes it into the Delhi side. It all started when the pacer got a chance to bowl during Delhi Ranji team’s net session at the Roshanara cricket ground 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. The World Cup-winner motivated Saini to bowl with the leather ball before helping him further after realising his talent. The DDCA officials were reluctant to consider Saini as they considered him an outsider from Haryana. But Gambhir’s persistence paid off and Saini eventually made it to the Delhi side.

Navdeep Saini
Navdeep Saini (Credit: BCCI)

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Saini went on to justify Gambhir’s faith by becoming the leader of Delhi’s attack. Time and again, Saini has credited Gambhir for his immense help and he did it again on Monday as Gambhir turned 38. The Delhi star took to Instagram to wish Gambhir on the special day and left an emotional message, writing:

“A Mentor Enables A Person To Achieve. A Hero Shows What Achievement Looks Like.”
And You Are All Of Them… Happy Birthday To A Person With All Disciplines Of Life… Bhaiya?”


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