As the selection panel announced India’s squad for the grand finale of the World Test Championship and the five-Test series against England, the mention of Arzan Nagwaswalla in the four reserves was a bolt from the blue. But we’ve got you covered as we chronicle the journey and rise to prominence of the left-arm seamer hailing from Gujarat.
Arzan Rohinton Nagwaswalla is a son of Nargol’s soil, a remote village located on the outskirts of Gujarat, adjacent to the Maharashtra border. He is the pride of Valsad district, having represented Gujarat at the Under-16s, Under-19s and Under-23 levels. Nagwaswalla is quite a canny operator with the red cherry in his hand. There are shades of Zaheer Khan in his load up and he chalks up speeds north of 135kmph on a regular basis. His lateral movement coupled with a feisty bouncer tends to keep batsmen honest, and often in awe of his reverse swinging prowess once the ball loses its lustre.
Nagwaswalla nabbed a five-wicket haul against Mumbai at the Wankhede in his maiden Ranji season in 2018, returning figures of 5 for 78 in 23.3 overs. The 2019-20 edition was arguably his finest hour in the domestic grind as he prized out a noteworthy 41 wickets. His bowling average was 18.36 and strike-rate a smart 39.4, as he conjured three fifers, and a towering ten-wicket haul against Punjab.
The Ranji Trophy couldn’t materialise last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 23-year-old made his presence felt in the white-ball wild with a tally of 19 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, including a stellar 6/54 against Chhattisgarh. Nagwaswalla was instrumental to Gujarat’s crusade to the semi-finals, where they lost to Uttar Pradesh in a low-scoring affair.
Nagwaswalla has a happy knack of picking wickets. The young quick has to his credit 39 wickets in 20 List A games at an average of 21.76 and strike rate of 24.9 and 21 wickets in 15 T20s, averaging 16.38 and a strike-rate of 14. What stands out is his economy rate of a miserly 6.97 in T20 cricket. In the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he produced 9 wickets in 5 matches for Gujarat with a strike-rate of 10.3. Pinch-hitting batsmen found it increasingly taxing to hit him off a length given the array of variations and the potent yorker he holds up his sleeve.
Gujarat teammate Priyank Panchal, who captains the state in the Ranji Trophy, sung praises of his junior after he made the cut as one of the four stand-by members for the upcoming tourney to the UK. “The best part is that he can swing the ball both ways. At the same time, he clocks 135-plus on a consistent basis. He is one of the few bowlers on the domestic circuit with a deadly bouncer. Fast bowlers bowl short by pitching around the halfway mark, but Arzan can get bounce by pitching between halfway and the good-length area.’’ Panchal told The Indian Express.
“The way he bowled in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, I thought someone will pick him for the Indian Premier League but he went just as a net bowler for Mumbai Indians. The good thing is that now Arzan will grow from here. Initially, he had pace but didn’t have control over line. Even a stint as a net bowler with the Indian team will boost his confidence. He will come back a better bowler after the tour,” Panchal remarked.
It was on the back of his spectacular T20 exploits that Mumbai Indians roped him in as a net bowler for IPL 2021. He feels that plying his trade against the likes of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock and Kieron Pollard has been a joyous learning curve. Nagwaswalla was still basking in the glory of a short and sweet IPL stint but life had another pleasant surprise in store. “I had received a call this morning (Friday, 7 May) that I will be picked, it was the best day of my life.’’ the rookie paceman exclaimed, evidently over the moon as he made the cut in India’s enlarged roster.
“I'm surprised and overwhelmed with my selection. The conditions in England are ideal for a bowler like me. I'm pretty excited to go there," he was quoted as saying to The Times of India.
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