Gurinder Sandhu’s wish to bowl at India’s top batsmen has come true as the Indian-origin pacer has made it to the Australian ODI team in the upcoming tri-series involving India, England and Australia. With his inclusion in the Australian national team, Gurinder, who has roots in Faridkot in Punjab has become the first cricketer of Indian-descent to make it to the Australian team.
Sandhu, who plays for New South Wales and Sydney Thunder, has been rewarded for his showing in the ongoing Big Bash League. The 21-year-old has not been selected for the World Cup though and his inclusion in the tri-series is as cover for pacer Mitchell Johnson, who is expected to return in the later stages of the tournament. He will be available for first two ODIs.
Sandhu was initially selected in the Cricket Australia XI. But New South Wales needed his services for a Sheffield Shield match, so he was replaced by Harry Conway in the first game. Sandhu was available for the second practice game to be held in the last week of November but owing to Phillip Hughes’ death during the Sheffield Shield match, the second practice match got cancelled. So, Sandhu did not get the chance to bowl at the Indians.
Speaking to The Indian Express from his hometown Sydney, Sandhu, 21, had expressed his desire to bowl at the Indians.
He had said, “The way Indian batsmen like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are playing cricket in the recent times, it shows their class. It would be challenging to keep such batsmen in check and aim for wickets. I guess the key to success would be to create pressure on the batsmen, who like to score quickly, by bowling dot balls. I have evolved as a bowler since I made my debut for Australia U-19 team two years ago.”
It was 32 years ago that Gurinder’s father, Iqbal Sandhu had shifted from village Hardialeana in Faridkot (Punjab) to Sydney and became a cab driver. Gurinder, who bowls at steady pace of 135-140 kms was awarded the prestigious Steve Waugh Medal as the state’s best cricketer in the 2012-13 season. He is known to hit the wicket hard, keep the seam up and swing the new ball as well as generate reverse swing. Gurinder is being touted as the next big thing. A prominent member of the NSW team, he has been working on his cricket with the likes of Geoff Lawson, Troy Cooley, Craig McDermott and Trent Dodson.
Sandhu has taken 52 wickets in 29 List A matches at an average of 24.36 and an economy of 4.92.
A statement released by Cricket Australia said, “Given the heavy workloads undertaken by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood during the fourth Test, and the hamstring problems recently suffered by Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Marsh, the selectors have named South Australia’s Kane Richardson and New South Wales seamer Gurinder Sandhu as extra bowling options for the early matches of the tri-series.”
The tri-series begins on January 16 with Australia taking on England at the SCG. India start their campaign on January 18 when they take on Australia at the MCG.