Navdeep Saini made headlines after a sterling international debut that saw him win the Man of the Match award in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) against the West Indies in Florida. Navdeep Saini took five wickets in three matches and ended up being the top wicket-taker in the T20I series, which India won 3-0. While the young pacer did not feature in any of the matches in the One-day International (ODI) series, the team management is reportedly impressed with him and want him to "groom him for the Test format".
According to a PTI report, Saini will be with the Indian team in the Caribbean primarily as a net bowler.
"Yes, Navdeep Saini has been asked to stay back by the team management for the Test series. He will stay back primarily as a net bowler, they want to groom him for the Test format keeping an eye on the future," a senior BCCI official told PTI on Monday.
Saini, in fact, bowled six overs during the West Indies A first innings in the ongoing practice match to give rest to Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav.
Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn't bowl in the first innings.
"Saini has been a performer in red ball cricket for the past few years. He has the pace, and ability to hit the deck, move the ball both in air and off the pitch.
"If he is groomed well, it will only increase our pool of fast bowlers for the top tier cricket. That's how the team management is looking at him," the official said.
It is believed that if Saini stays back, it will help bowling coach Bharat Arun to invest more time in the 26-year-old Karnal-lad, who has taken 120 wickets in 43 first-class games with three five-wicket hauls.
"One can't ignore the effort that Arun has put in to make India's fast bowling unit the best that has emerged from the country. Rather than playing domestic cricket, he now needs to be in and around the international scene and learn the tricks of the trade for the next level," he said.
India will play five Test matches at home this season with three against South Africa and two against Bangladesh. It will not be a bad idea to blood Saini against Bangladesh since the management would be monitoring Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami's respective workloads.
(With PTI inputs)