Navdeep Saini returned figures of 3 for 17 in his debut T20I AFP

Navdeep Saini, the promising Indian pacer, bowled with a good burst of pace on his international debut and finished with noteworthy returns of 3 for 17 to bag the Man of the Match award in the first T20I versus the West Indies in Florida, on Saturday (August 3).

The fast bowler gave a glimpse of his ability to bowl hard lengths as he dismissed both Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer in his very first over in international cricket to make it a memorable debut. He was also given the chance to bowl in the slog overs and added the scalp of West Indies' experienced all-rounder Kieron Pollard.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India's senior paceman, commended Saini for his impressive show and observed that the young paceman can touch 90mph. "He bowls really quick. Like I said the wicket wasn't a proper wicket, it was a bit slow. But if you look at his bowling, he is a quick bowler, he bowls at around 145-150," Bhuvneshwar said.

Saini's journey from playing tennis ball cricket in the Karnal Premier League to shining brightly for India has been a fascinating one. In 2013, a shy 20-year-old Saini turned up at the Roshanara ground in Delhi, and with the Delhi Ranji team in need of net bowlers, he was given the chance to bowl at the then Indian opener, Gautam Gambhir. Saini, who had played just tennis ball cricket until then, surprised the seasoned opener for pace.

The southpaw was impressed, and provided the youngster with spikes. He soon became a regular at the nets and with Gambhir's backing, also made his way into the Delhi side for the 2013-14 Ranji season. Since then, the fast bowler has largely put up consistent performances in domestic cricket as well as had a taste of playing in the IPL.

Bhuvneshwar also noted that Saini has come through the ranks by doing well across various domestic tournaments and the IPL. "The most important thing is he has proved himself at different stages - whether it is domestic cricket, IPL or India A. So, when he came into the team, I was pretty confident. Just before he came into the team, they played India A in West Indies and he did well there. When you do well at that international level, it gives you confidence," he added.

Meanwhile, the first T20I turned out to be a low-scoring affair as West Indies' powerful batting unit ended up with a mere 95 runs on the board. India also made heavy weather of chasing down a paltry target and lost six wickets in the process before crossing the finishing line

Bhuvneshwar, who picked up a couple of scalps, pointed out that as the wicket was under covers for a couple of days, moisture would have seeped in and that made it rather tricky for the batsmen. "It was a bit sticky, it was under covers for a couple of days. The ball wasn't really coming onto the bat. I mean, it wasn't easy for the batsmen. It got a bit better in the second innings for batting. In the morning, it was a bit more sticky. The sun was out in the second innings and the wicket got better."

Bhuvneshwar also said that the Indian think-tank look to help the fringe players coming into the setup feel secure by providing them enough chances to prove their mettle. "See the first message the captain or the management gives is that you would get plenty of matches. You will get enough chances to perform in the middle. It won't be like one or two matches and you're out of the team. So, that gives them the security. And that is the most important thing when you're a youngster and come into the team, you want security and that is what they are getting.

"Being a senior player you always want to perform. When a youngster plays with you like Navdeep Saini did well. Khaleel is there. So, you want to talk to them, always make them feel comfortable, that is the first thing I look to do," he noted.