The left-handed opener, Faiz Fazal, who plays for Vidharba in the Domestic circuit finally managed to live his long awaited dream of playing for the nation at the age of 30.
Faiz was rewarded with a call-up into the Indian Team for the tour of Zimbabwe after a string of impressive performances in the domestic circuit. Interestingly, he was the only member of the squad to not have featured in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in recent years. The Southpaw announced himself in grand style with a swashbuckling half-century on debut.
In an exclusive interview with Circle of Cricket, Faiz talks about his experience of representing the Indian team, interactions with skipper MS Dhoni and a lot more.
Q: Did you expect a call-up into the Indian Team right before the Zimbabwe squad was announced?
A: Yes, I was expecting a call-up into the team. I had been performing consistently well for the last two years and it was always there at the back of my mind. Felt great after getting the news.
Q: How does it feel to be the first India player in 16 years to make an ODI debut in the thirties?
A: I always wanted to play for India as that has been my ultimate aim. Fitness is the most important aspect nowadays and I am as fit as anyone in the team, age is just a number.
Q: Every young cricketer in the nation dreams of playing under the Captaincy of MS Dhoni. Did you interact with him personally during the Zimbabwe tour?
A: I was actually looking forward to playing under MS. Have always heard good things about him from fellow players but had not played with him before. Must say, it was a wonderful experience for me. He is a really calm and composed person so there is always a lot to learn from him be it on or off the field. The way he handles pressure situations is commendable. Receiving my maiden India cap from the great man himself was a dream come true for me.
It was a short 15-day tour for us and I did not get as much time as I wanted to interact with Dhoni bhai personally. But he really gels well with the youngsters and helps them in their approach towards their game.
Q: You scored a fifty on debut. How did you prepare yourself for your first ever International game?
A: It is always a special feeling to score big be it at the domestic level or in an International game. We prepare equally hard for both. But yes, initial nerves are always there but that’s important too I feel. I was extremely excited for it.
Q: Your selection in the team is indicative of the fact that IPL success is not the only criteria to get selected. Your thoughts on this?
A: Well I have worked very hard at the domestic level and was always dedicated towards my cricket. By the grace of god, I have been able to prove myself. The selectors believed in me which is a good thing. Definitely, domestic cricket is the most important platform.
Q: Who has been your cricketing idol?
A: Rahul Dravid has always been someone I have looked up to. His temperament, composure, and style of batting is something I have always admired. I have been lucky enough to play with him in the IPL in the year 2011. His work ethics are unbelievably good.
Q: Your thoughts on the appointment of Anil Kumble as the new coach for Team India?
A: I feel he is the right choice for being the Coach. Anil Kumble has been a match winner since his playing days and I am sure he will look to inculcate that mindset into the mind of all the youngsters in the team.
Very excited to see Kumble-Kohli Jodi work in tandem in the upcoming test series against West Indies as both of them play to win and go the extra mile.
Q: Which is the sport that you love watching apart from cricket? If not a cricketer what would you have wanted to become in life?
A: I love following Tennis and I would have taken up the sport professionally, had I not been a cricketer.
Q: Now that you are back from Zimbabwe, how are you keeping yourself engaged and what are your plans for the upcoming season?
A: I am pretty excited about the India A tour of Australia which is coming up in August. I have been doing a lot of physical training lately and practicing indoors at the VCA Stadium, Nagpur due to consistent rainfall. Planning to go for a short vacation this month.