Navdeep Saini got a call up to the Indian team after Mohammad Shami failed the yo-yo fitness test. BCCI has made it mandatory for Indian players to pass the fitness test in order to be available for selection. Thanks to his (Saini’s) good performances, he got the call-up once Shami didn’t passed the test. India is going to host debutantes Afghanistan at Bengaluru starting June 14-18. India will be playing without their regular captain Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane would be their stand-in captain for their test.

Here are some intriguing facts about the Karnal-born.

·         In February 2017, he was bought by the Delhi Daredevils team for the 2017 Indian Premier League for 10 Lakhs. In January 2018, he was bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2018 IPL auction for 3 crore.

·         His father work as a driver in Haryana government and had supported him with his cricket.

·         Saini would play tennis-ball tournaments and eke out INR 200-300 as cash reward at the most. He used the money to enroll himself in the try-outs of the Karnal Premier League, a tournament conducted by Delhi seamier Sumit Narwal.

·         Gautam Gambhir had always been a upper hand for him who has supported and encouraged him for playing instead of looking out for other things. According to one of his interview he said “  wherever I am now, because of him only”.

·         Ahmed Naseer was his personal trainer.

·         His biggest supporter is his “100-plus year old” Grandfather Karam Singh a war veteran whom he says had fought in Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA). Saini said. “He is still remarkably fit and even rides a bicycle. He doesn’t understand any cricket, but derives a lot of pleasure watching me play on TV. I am sure he would have been watching this game as well.”

·         Pooja Bijarnia is rumored to be his girlfriend.

·         After the Afghanistan Test, he will fly to England with India A team to England. He is expected to be named in the India Test squad for the England Test series as well.

·         Saini made his List ‘A’ and T20 debut in the 2015-2016 season. He had figures of 2/51 on his List ‘A’ debut against Baroda while he bowled four overs for 32 runs without picking up a wicket on his T20 debut against Railways.

(Srajan Agarwal)