Saini is seen as the next big fast bowling hope to emerge from India, his pace and control turning quite a few heads in white and red-ball matches.
Playing his first match in India colours, Saini got to bowl on a damp pitch in Lauderhill and made an immediate impact, getting left-handed batsmen Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer off successive deliveries in his first over.
Then in his return spell, he dismissed top-scorer Kieron Pollard lbw with a full-toss. Saini finished with 3-17 from his four overs and even finished the innings with a wicket-maiden.
It was a memorable debut for Saini. He didn’t let the occasion get the better of him as he got his radar right before trying too many things. That allowed him to come back after getting hit for a six with his second ball by Pooran.
One ball later, Saini shortened his length and saw Pooran mistime his pull high that was taken by the keeper. Next ball, danger-man Shimron Hetmyer tried to guide a short of length ball and only managed to chop it on. Both dangerous southpaws were sent back within two balls and the match was in India’s bag.
The control that Saini showed in his first spell was commendable, especially because he is known to be express quick. It would have been easy for him to try to blast the opposition batsmen away with the quick stuff but credit to him for gauging the conditions and not straying in line or length early on.
In his second spell, Saini tried a bit too hard to bowl the yorker and they ended up being thigh-high full tosses, with Pollard depositing one for a six. However, he did nudge the 90mph mark. Saini got Pollard out lbw with a full toss, but that was a bit fortunate.
It was a solid start to international cricket for Saini and he ticked most of the boxes. Once he settles down, Saini will be able to operate at top speed while maintaining his lines. Will see a lot more of him.
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