The Delhi dressing room was gloomy on Saturday after Saurashtra snatched a five-run win in the Ranji Trophy group tie in Vadodara to dash the former champions’ hopes of qualifying for the quarters.
However, all-rounder Sumit Narwal can look at the game with some satisfaction after completing 200 first-class scalps with a four-wicket haul in the Saurashtra first innings.
Narwal, 34, hit out at the Delhi selectors as he recalled the tough moments in his career.
“I never thought I will have 200 wickets against my name,” he told HT. He made his debut for Haryana in 2000-01, but had to wait for nearly six years to make a return to first-class cricket.
It was in 2007 that he was picked for Delhi. “Those were difficult times. I had not played any first-class cricket for years and here I was, picked by skipper Gautam Gambhir. I was only thinking of not letting him down.”
Narwal, who bowls pace, averages under-23 in 57 matches.
This year, his knock helped beat Rajasthan by two wickets. Last year in Jaipur, Narwal’s century under pressure against the same opposition laid the platform for Delhi.
“It was not easy for me,” he said. “What motivated me to this achievement is my skipper, who showed faith in me when I was struggling in the Delhi club circuit. Every match I play for Delhi, I tell myself I have to prove myself and will never let anyone raise a finger at Gambhir for picking me.”
But Narwal felt there was little guidance for the younger lot.
“It hurts me when I see young pacers who attend the Delhi camp are directionless. I have realised no one from DDCA makes an effort to guide them. This milestone is not just an achievement but it bestows a responsibility to help my colleagues.”
Over the years, Narwal has been Delhi’s go-to man. On placid wickets, when Delhi’s other quick bowlers tire and give up, Gambhir would throw the ball to him. Now, Narwal is passing on his knowledge to the current crop of Delhi pacers.
“See, more than being a one-dimension bowler, it is important to know how to pick wickets. To pick wickets on a placid wicket, one needs to have the experience and smartness. That is what I tell Navdeep Saini, Pradeep Sangwan and Parvinder Awana.
“Bowling quick is a virtue but getting to learn the art of picking wickets is what makes you special,” added Narwal.
Narwal though feels his contribution has not been appreciated. “Even though I have given my best season after season, I feel hurt when I get to hear negative things about me from the DDCA selectors. They don’t even come to the nets and pick the squad just two days before the tournament.
“I have put in a lot of hard work to stay fit but still there are people who have never appreciated my effort. Recently, when I was down with fever and had to sit out of a game, I learnt it wasn’t fever but I had no desire to play. It hurts but it makes me stronger as there is a challenge to prove myself,” Narwal added.