India’s hunt for a dependable left-arm seamer continues and Gujarat’s Arzan Nagwaswalla is the latest claimant for the spot. While T Natarajan has already made an impression, he is recovering from a knee surgery that left an opening. The selectors surprised everyone by picking a greenhorn in Nagwaswalla among the standby for the England tour who made his domestic debut only three years back and that too when the likes of Jaydev Unadkat, Khaleel Ahmed seem to have a better claim based on record and experience.
Not that Nagwaswalla doesn’t merit a look. A cursory glance at his record, across formats, will be enough proof why the team management rated him higher up in the pegging order against many accomplished competitors.
The 23-year-old spent time with the Mumbai Indians squad during the IPL 2021 as a net bowler and gleaned invaluable inputs from some world-class bowlers and coaches among those was his cricketing idol, Zaheer Khan.
CricketNext caught up with the promising pacer for an interview.
How was the reaction when you found about your selection among the stand-by players?
Everybody is so happy at home. I’ve been getting calls from everywhere. It was very surprising but everybody now is excited.
When did you realise that you have the talent to pursue cricket seriously?
When I started playing at the district level. I realized If I start working harder, then I can do better in this game. Then I took cricket more seriously.
So once you began drifting towards cricket, did the school take a backseat?
I always gave equal importance to cricket and education. In the beginning, I never thought that cricket can be a serious career. So, I was pretty focused on my studies too. I passed 12th with 80 percent marks. I was pretty solid on both fronts. I completed my graduation last year.
What value do you think a left-arm pacer brings in a bowling attack?
A left-arm bowler brings in a different dimension. They bowl with a different angle. A batter can become comfortable playing against a right-arm bowler but if there’s a left-armer in the team, that presents a different challenge too. Teams do want one or two left-arm pacers in their setup. If I do get a chance to play for India, I will try to make an impact.
You have talked about the impact of your elder brother Vispi’s in your career so far…
My elder brother used to play cricket way before me and he’s quite knowledgeable about the game too. He started teaching me the nuances. He taught me how to bowl. His support and encouragement are still there but at the start, the basics of the game, I learned from him. Then my coach polished it further.
Are you hoping of getting a chance to play on England tour?
I am hopeful. Who wouldn’t be? But I know that much when the right time comes, things will fall into place. I have never rushed into things. If I get it this year, I will happy and if not then will try again next time.
Tell us about your time with Mumbai Indians?
It was very fruitful. I got a chance to bowl to some of the very top batters from across the world. I worked with top coaches, spoke to them. Zaheer Khan told me about training and several other things. Jasprit Bumrah knew me beforehand since he’s from Gujarat too. I had a nice interaction with a lot of people during IPL 2021.
Any standout moment from that experience?
I think there was no standout moment as such but I liked the fact that during the nets, when I was given a chance to bowl with the new ball. I liked it a lot.
You will be spending over three months with the Indian Test team, what are your expectations?
I want to spend a good time, have a good experience, learn a lot from the top Indian coaches.
Since now you are on the radar, do you feel weighed down by the rising expectations?
I don’t think about pressure or who is watching me. I am focused on my process which I have been following all my life and hopefully, it will keep on giving me more positive results.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
All my coaches have backed me. Parthiv bhai has supported me a lot in recent times. I sometimes speak to him. I actually made my domestic debut when he was playing. So he has seen grow.
A lot has been said about your Parsi identity and how from your community, a cricketer has finally made it to the national reckoning after 28 years?
I actually feel happy when people take my name in the same breath as these legends (Farokh Engineer, Diana Edulji). I don’t think about what others are expecting of me. If I am able to meet my own expectations, everything else will be taken care of. Just want to maintain the standard that I set for myself