Karnataka v Delhi, Ranji Trophy, Bangalore, 2nd day December 9, 2012

Awana's timely performances earn Test call

Parvinder Awana took a five-for and scored a fifty against Karnataka, and with India losing to England in Kolkata, he was rewarded with a call-up to the Test squad

A five-for one day; an attacking half-century the next. Parvinder Awana's performance in the ongoing Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Karnataka was eye-catching, and well timed. India had just lost the Kolkata Test to England, and the selectors were due to pick the squad for Nagpur and the two Twenty20s. Patience had run out with Zaheer Khan and Awana, the Delhi seamer who has been part of the India A team, was selected in both squads.

Awana was approaching his fifty at the Chinnaswamy Stadium when he heard. He had gestured to the dressing room and one of the reserves stepped out with a pair of bats and the good news of his selection. Awana had come out to bat when Delhi were 144 for 7, 48 away from drawing level with Karnataka's first-innings score. With no specialist batsmen left, he guided his partner Sumit Narwal, and they first inched towards safety before launching towards the target of 192 and past it.

After he got news of his selection, Awana stepped up the pace. He hit the ball to the deep midwicket boundary to bring up his maiden first-class fifty. With the deficit wiped out, Awana attacked the bowling until his departure for 74.

After a relatively quiet opening day, television news crews arrived at the ground when Awana's selection was announced. Having played the IPL and felt its spotlight, Awana saw the attention coming. "It is every player's dream to be selected for the national team and it was mine too," Awana said. "I've got the opportunity at the right time. I've had some good performances recently."

The only time he struggled a bit to maintain composure while answering questions was when he was asked whom he would dedicate this selection to. To understand where his emotions were coming from, one would have to trace his background. Awana grew up in a village in the outskirts of Noida, in Delhi's National Capital Region. His family went through hard times when his father died in 1999 and the responsibility of taking care of the family fell on his mother. It came down to picking a career with the police force or in cricket. Awana chose sport and there was no looking back.

"I'd like to thank my mother. My father has passed away," Awana said. "I was thinking of him today. My mother has helped me a lot."

Early recognition came when he won a fast-bowling talent hunt in 2004, by clocking 138 kph. Awana was eventually picked in the Delhi Ranji side and the 2011-12 season, in which he took 35 first-class wickets, was his most productive. He was rewarded with an IPL stint with Kings XI Punjab, and he impressed with his ability to bowl in the mid-140 kph range.

Awana expected to be on the plane to the Caribbean for an A tour after the IPL, but was overlooked by the selectors. He took the disappointment in his stride, saying his early life lessons helped him cope with rejection. However, an injury to RP Singh opened a slot for Awana. He played one game on tour and took three wickets. He was overlooked again for the A tour of New Zealand but was picked for the A team's match against England at Brabourne Stadium. He went wicketless, but his two five-fors this Ranji season were a timely reminder of his talents.

Awana doesn't rely on raw pace alone. Against Karnataka, on a grassy first-day pitch, he pitched the ball up, swung it and tempted the batsmen to drive. The ball that broke KL Rahul's defences and sent the off stump for a spin was his best delivery.

"I've learnt that just pace isn't enough, that line and length is also important," he said. "My deliveries cut in naturally. In India, we mostly get flat wickets. So I don't think about what kind of pitch I get, I concentrate on bowling well through the air. I've been playing for Delhi, and I've learnt a lot from my seniors, Ashish bhai [Nehra], Ishant [Sharma], Viru bhai [Sehwag]. I've also learnt a lot from the IPL."

In Karnataka's second innings, when Delhi were searching for a breakthrough, Awana was the only bowler who created chances against both batsmen. The wicketkeeper and slips let him down.

Did he feel any extra pressure to deliver, now that he's been picked in the Test squad? "Pressure?" he asks with a smile. "No pressure at all. I've been playing for five-six years anyway."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • n on December 12, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    Selectors must consider the player's current form. Past performance/ Form wont help to win current matches. Choose from Ranji Matches. There are plenty of players performing consistently well with commitment. Better than current fixed asset Indian XI players. (Whether performing or not they can remain in the playing XI as much as their wish)

  • Nadarajhah on December 12, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    Indian team looking for a Fast Bowling Allrounder for a long time. Why cant give a chance to RISHI DAWAN (Himachal Pradesh)? Just 22 Years old & performing exceptional well with bat & Bowl in the on going Ranji Matches. scored 3 centuries from 6 matches & 2 Five wickets haul. From 21 matches more than 1000 Runs (AV. 44) & 92 Wickets(Av.25)

    Please don't label him next KAPIL DEV & spoil his carer. No one come closer to Great Kapil's fitness & performance. So many players got the next Kapil Dev label & vanished. players like Athul Wassan, Ajth Agarkar, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Joginder Sharma, Sanjay Bangar, Irfan Pathan.

  • Alok on December 11, 2012, 10:47 GMT


    Look at this Basant Mohanty From orissa .... He has been overlooked by selectors from Last 4 season . always among wickets ...selectors always showing theri faith to Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab , Up states ...this guy is better than awana ..atleat for test matches ...I have example ...Ishant sharma has very ordinary record as test player ...can not understand his inclusion in indian team ...Piyush Chawla ... why has been getting so favor hard to believe ..Mishra has better control over tha ball than Chawla still selectors neglects him.

  • Sumeet on December 11, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    He simply said he has learnt a lot from IPL. Did he say he has learnt his technique in IPL? Take a life guys and give the person his deserved due. There are hell lot of things that one can learn just being around the seniors and international players in terms of attitude, preparation, reading the game, etc. Leave the poor soul alone. At last, the selectors have looked beyond Zaheer, though Ishant is still lucky to be there. But his real test should be bowling into 140s for a day long over and over and not just one off ball every now and then.

  • Mark on December 11, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    @Rahulbose To put it in context though, when Tim Bresnan was being dismissed as a medium pace trundler, he was averaging around 135km/h! Speed is relative. 138km/h is fast-medium, but it's a start.

  • Par on December 10, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    haha @ landl47, i didnt even care to notice what this fellow said, but good catch. If our test prospects (who are giving "timely performances" according to cricinfo) are learning from IPL, then god cant save test cricket. He will play 2 games if at all and be forgotten soon.

    On a side note this is just in: Ravindra Jadeja is not only the first batsman to score 3 first class triple hundreds for India, but he is also the first to score then while sleeping. Yes new footage shows that the pitch and the bowling was so dead, batsman felt asleep but still ended up hitting 300. Now thats a test prospect!

  • rahul on December 10, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    I was really interested until the 138kph clocking part. Best wishes to him, hope he succeeds where so many of the Indian medium pacers have failed.

  • Ajit on December 10, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    I hope Dhoni plays Dinda and Awana in the 4th test even if it's a little risky. Ishant Sharma is totally useless now.

  • Dummy4 on December 10, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    Well said Ven61..couldnt agreee with you more...indian commentators arent brave ..however dada has been saying tat dhoni should step dwn from test captain...i think dada needs to be more involved with indian cricket to take it forward where he left... Cheap thinking is killing indian cricket...dhoni cannot survive test cricket unless he fixes the mountain of technical faults that is in his batting..everything thing is bottom hand for him.he is only fit for ODI and test cricket is big daddy's play ...i think rahane should be in the 11. He is the future.. Gambhir sucks as usual...his running llooks like some mental running with a bat on indian highway..not sure when he will understand.. Did you guys see the fitness of yuvraj , zaheer ,sehwag , gambhir , harbhajan.....shame on these guys on letting country down in terms of showing fitness levels on field.. People who pplay for country should give an example of fitness for younger generations...

  • Jay on December 10, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    Some of the comments here are SO STUPID. Why not just shut up and wish the young man well ??? Is it that difficult ? @landl47: Do you have anything positive to ever say about Indian players and Indian cricket ? Isn't Luke Wright an English man who once said he learnt a lot from the Big Bash ? Come on, enough with the hypocrisy already. @itsthewayuplay? Dude, what else do you expect from Awana ? Do you want him to say that he learned a lot from people whom he never met or played with before ? What's wrong with all you people ? Wish the man well or simply be quiet.

  • No featured comments at the moment.