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Faiz Fazal - Struck with flamboyance

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Faiz_Fazal_India_cricketWhen the Indian squad for the Zimbabwe tour was announced, Faiz Fazal's name was a surprise to many. He wasn't quite a known personality in the cricketing world, probably due to his remoteness to the IPL, though he did represent the Rajasthan Royals some years ago. The BCCI had been known for infusing young blood in the team for such tours and Fazal was rewarded for some outstanding performances in the domestic season.

With more than 5000 runs in 79 First-class games over a decade, Fazal had been the backbone of Vidarbha's batting lineup. His recent exploits in the Irani Cup, where he hit a brilliant century, helped Rest of India pull off a historic chase against Mumbai early this year.

The prospect of donning the blue colours was yet to sink in for Faiz himself. He was busy preparing himself for the North East Premiere League in Durham when he got informed about his selection.

 

"This is a massive surprise for me. For two years before this, I kept looking up to see if I was picked every time a squad was announced. But I was disappointed each time. I've tried to consciously steer away from thoughts about selection, so to receive this news early morning from India is a big surprise, but I'm happy."

By the looks of things, it seemed Faiz would have to wait for his chance. It finally arrived in the third ODI when he was presented the Indian cap by Captain MS Dhoni. Faiz had waited a long time for this opportunity and made a lasting impression when the chance finally came.

When asked about his mindset during the glory moment, Faiz suddenly sounded a lot like a free spirited youngster, who believes in the present and thrives on that belief.

“That is the life of a sportsman, you just need to work hard and hard and when you get the reverse, you have to accept it. You have to go there and perform.”

Faiz had always been waiting for this opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. He was well aware of the fact that a decent performance in Zimbabwe might increase his status and help in getting picked for bigger battles ahead, even though the opposition had barely managed to keep themselves afloat in the series. However, a failure would be viewed under the microscope.

 

The 30-year old repaid the selectors’ faith with a classy knock. He, along with KL Rahul, ran riot over the Zimbabwe bowlers as India eased their way to a whitewash in the ODI series. From what was seen in his stylish innings of 55* on debut, he had a rampant batting style. He stamped his authority, showing some wonderful stroke-playing abilities. His sumptuous drives, exquisite timing and intelligent foot movements were delightful, to say the least, and provided a glimpse of what he could offer to the Indian batting lineup in the near future.

In the strong Indian batting lineup where all the seniors pick themselves, though, where even batsmen like Manish Pandey and Rahane have strived hard to make it, it's difficult to say whether Faiz will get another chance to prove his credentials.

But at the same time, this Zimbabwe tour will be a huge experience boost for the 30 year old. Going through the batting drills along with the national team, talking to seniors like Dhoni about the perils of the season, living up to the fitness demands for a full fledged series and gaining of some new skills would prove to be quite beneficial for Faiz.

With the approaching season having less limited overs competition and more of the longer format, there's no denying that Faiz will need to have an impressive domestic season again this year if he wants to stay in the radar of the selectors. If he can produce an impressive display of his talent on a consistent basis, there would be no stopping him.

Fazal is also a handy gentle medium pacer occasionally and has done the job for Vidarbha at times. With the kind of versatility Faiz offers, he can surely emerge as one of the top contenders for any team he plays for. As of now, only time will tell what the future holds for Faiz Fazal.

 

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