Gujarat pacer Arzan Nagwaswalla was named as one of the four standby players when the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a 20-member squad for India men’s team’s upcoming tour of England.

The tour will see Virat Kohli and Co play the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton, followed the five-Test series away against England.

It is a breakthrough moment for Nagwaswalla who made his first-class debut for Gujarat back in 2018. The 23-year-old left-arm pacer has picked 62 wickets in 16 first-class matches so far.

Arzan Nagwaswalla's career stats

First Class 16 62 5/50 22.53 3.02 44.60 4
List A 20 39 6/54 21.76 5.22 24.90 1
T20 15 21 6/19 16.38 6.97 14.00 1
Courtesy ESPNcricinfo

Between November 2018 and February 2019, he had made his senior debut for Gujarat across all three formats.

Nagwaswalla had an impressive 2019-’20 Ranji Trophy campaign where he picked 41 wickets in eight matches and played a key role in Gujarat reaching the semi-finals. He was the leading wicket-taker that season for his side, revelling despite not being used as the new-ball seamer often.

The standout performance so far in his young career came in his debut Ranji Trophy season as he picked 5/78 against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. In a brilliant burst of bowling, he accounted for the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav, Arman Jaffer and Aditya Tare in the space of two overs to reduce Mumbai from 74/2 to 74/5. Gujarat went on to win by nine wickets.

Nagwaswalla was born in Surat but grew up in Nargol, a village which is situated on the border of Maharashtra in Umbergoan town in Gujarat. He now resides in Valsad, which is around 336 km from Ahmedabad.

A left-arm medium-pacer who has a smooth action and can swing the ball both ways, Nagwaswalla represented Gujarat in the Under-16, U-19 and U-22 age categories. He then became the first Parsi cricketer since Mumbai’s Zubin Barucha (1992 to ‘95) to play in the Ranji Trophy.

He was initially coached by his elder brother before he got the opportunity to play with a few Ranji Trophy players in his hometown and that helped him develop his skill and interest in the game.

In terms of recent form, Nagwaswalla picked up an impressive 19 wickets in seven games in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier this year.

According to the Times of India, Nagwaswalla – who was roped in as a net bowler for Mumbai Indians in the recently suspended IPL – received the news of his selection as a standby when on his way back home from Ahmedabad and was surprised it. “I’m surprised and overwhelmed with my selection. I’m pretty excited to go there,” he told the newspaper, adding that MI director Zaheer Khan is his idol. The pacer had gone unsold at the auction, but had impressed in the domestic season.

Of course, the news made it a day to remember for him.

“I had received a call this morning that I will be picked, it was the best day of my life. I will be going home after two months of IPL, I never thought that I will be with the Indian team,” Nagwaswalla told the Indian Express.

Leading wicket-takers in VJH Trophy 2021

Player Team Wkts Inns BBI Avg Econ SR 5w
Shivam Sharma  UPCA 21 8 7/31 16.90 4.60 22.04 2
A Nagwaswalla  GCA 19 7 6/54 13.94 4.32 19.36 1
R R Dhawan  HPCA 16 4 6/27 13.25 5.43 14.62 1
P H Solanki  MCA 15 6 5/48 21.46 6.19 20.80 1
Siddharth Kaul  PCA 14 5 4/27 18.57 5.51 20.21 0

Farokh Engineer, who was the last Parsi cricketer to play in India’s men’s team back in 1975, was delighted at the inclusion of Nagwaswalla. “It is fabulous news, and I am so happy that a Parsi boy has finally made it to the Indian squad. His ambition should be to play in the final XI,” Engineer told Sportstar from Manchester.

Retired Gujarat captain and former India cricketer Parthiv Patel is a fan of the seamer as well.

Former Gujarat right-arm pacer and coach Hitesh Majumdar told PTI on Friday that Nagwaswalla’s bowling can touch speeds of upto 140 kmph

“He represents the Valsad District Cricket Association, which is affiliated to the Gujarat Cricket Association. He did well in Under-19, Under-23 and made his debut in the Ranji Trophy three years ago. He did very good as he touched around 140 (kmph).

“He had potential and then he improved by playing. Now, since the last two years he has taken 23 and 40 odd wickets in two seasons,” he said.

Majumdar said the pacer has worked immensely on his fitness.

“Firstly, he was only relying on pace but he didn’t know much about fitness. Now being in the Ranji Trophy (team) and after being around the likes of Axar (Patel), Parthiv (Patel), Piyush Chawla, Jasprit (Bumrah) and Priyank Panchal, Manpreet Juneja, he became aware about his fitness. Now, he is improving day by day and I am sure he will see him in India whites or India Blues,” he added.

Asked what is unique about Nagwaswalla, Majumdar said, “The main thing is he is a pacer and he is a left-hander. His natural ability is to bring the ball back in, he has a very good action. He is a very down to earth and shy guy. He has got that ability to bring back the delivery in, the natural left-armer and he has got very good pace.”

Former Gujarat Ranji player Pallav Vohra, who was the team’s assistance coach, described Nagwaswalla as a “good listener”.

“Actually, he comes from a very small village near Valsad but he is very dedicated. Wherever he gets an opportunity, he wants to prove himself. During the off-time, he does his conditioning and strength work,” said Vohra.

“He is also very co-operative. He goes deep inside things and is gradually improving. He is also a good listener and whenever he gets an opportunity he comes and plays games in Ahmedabad. He also keeps himself updated. He is a good cricketer.”

In his own words, Nagwaswalla is a bowler who enjoys sticking to plans and maintaining a strong line and length, especially with the older ball. In the semi-final against eventual champions Saurashtra, that’s exactly what he did, providing breakthroughs with nearly 70-over-old deliveries. Bowling around the wicket to bang the ball in short is also something that comes naturally with the action that the left-armer has. Discipline is something he had tried to add to his game in what was just his second first-class season.

“Had it been the last season, I would have perhaps pitched a couple of deliveries here and there, straying from my line,” he had said after his Ranji Trophy semi-final five-for in March 2020. “That’s something I have learnt this season, that you have to stick to the plan. So mentally you need to be prepared and bowl with discipline. That’s something I have been able to do this season.”

With T Natarajan nursing an injury, Nagwaswalla has made it to the squad as a left-arm pace option presumably to prepare India for facing the likes of Trent Boult and Neil Wagner first up, and perhaps Sam Curran later on. Should he impress over the long duration of the English summer, one never knows, perhaps a Natarajan moment is around the corner for the youngster from Gujarat.

(With PTI inputs)