'It was unexpected but felt amazing'
'I feel I am more matured having played 79 first-class matches (5341 runs), which means I have considerable experience at the domestic level'
'I would like to give my best and learn a few things from Mahendra Singh Dhoni'
Just like it happens with most seasoned domestic cricket warhorses, 30-year-old Faiz Fazal had also stopped expecting to break through into the national squad but now that he has earned his maiden India call-up, "the world seems like a much beautiful place" for the Vidarbha left-hander.
"A few years back when I had scored 700 plus runs in a Ranji season, I was expecting some good news but it never came and I was disappointed. Over the years, I had stopped expecting as then you don't feel disappointed. Today, when my father called me up, it felt as if the world around me seemed so beautiful. It was unexpected but felt amazing," Fazal said from Durham, UK, where he is playing for a club in North Eastern Premier League.
"Everyone expects to play for India but then everyone does not get a chance. I am happy that I have got an opportunity to represent the country. There are many competent domestic players, who have played 100-plus first-class games but never got selected for India. Mujhe der se hi saahi, chance milaa toh hain (even though its belated, at least I have got a chance). I need to make it count if I get an opportunity to play," said Fazal, who has also played Ranji Trophy for the Railways.
"I feel I am more matured having played 79 first-class matches (5341 runs), which means I have considerable experience at the domestic level."
Fazal believes that he came into prominence for his match-winning 127 against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the Irani Cup match, where Rest of India chased down a mammoth 480 in the fourth innings.
"I believe that match brought me into prominence. Scoring a century in the fourth innings against Mumbai in Mumbai in a chase of 482, that will certainly remain a high-point of my domestic career. I batted seven hours and anchored the chase after we conceded 300-plus lead. That was special.
"I believe my century (100 off 112 balls) against India B in the Deodhar Trophy final also was a satisfying effort. Scoring hundred in a big game like the final also helps. Before that match, I had scored a half-century (53) against Vijay Hazare Trophy winners Gujarat. So I was in good form at that point in time," said Fazal.
There was a tinge of disappointment in the voice of the former Rajasthan Royals player as Fazal was not picked by any franchise for this season of the Indian Premier League.
"Obviously, it was disappointing but then I am now used to it. I knew that I had to keep working hard and that's why when I got a chance to play club cricket, I grabbed the opportunity. It keeps me match-fit. For someone like me, call it my mantra or USP, it has only been hard work. When I have worked hard at nets, I have felt relaxed out there in the middle," said the Vidarbha captain, who scored 559 runs in the Ranji Trophy this season.
India won't be playing any more limited overs fixtures in next one year and it may mean that Fazal, if he gets a chance and does well, might get confined to the fringes once again.
However, when someone is 30 and had nearly given up hopes of playing for India, every day in the dressing room is a thing of joy.
"I don't want to think on those lines. I would like to give my best and learn a few things from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Which cricketer in India does not want to play under someone like Dhoni?" concluded Fazal.
Image: Faiz Fazal
Photograph: Faiz Fazal/Twitter