However, on Monday morning in England, as he was going about his routine, he received the news of his maiden national selection for India’s limited-overs tour to Zimbabwe from his father in Nagpur.
The left-handed opening batsman for Vidarbha is in England to play for Hetton Lyons Cricket Club in the North East Premier League near Durham from April to September. As the news of his selection reached him, he made frantic calls to his club bosses on how to go about his release from the club.
Fazal’s wife and daughter reached England three days ago. “They are sad that they will have to return to India soon and not get much time to see London. At the same time, they are very happy about my India selection,” the 30-year-old told dna from England soon after his first India call-up.
Fazal’s second taste of league cricket in England – and first after 2007 – has been a continuation of the good domestic season he had in India in both first-class and limted-overs cricket.
“I scored two centuries (104 & 108) and a 48 in four matches here,” Fazal said. “The matches are 60-over games and played on Saturdays with other days reserved for training and sight seeing.”
Playing minor cricket in England was Fazal’s way of keeping in tune with the game during the off-season. He had almost given up hope of a national call-up after it did not come all these years despite churning out runs in domestic cricket.
“Three knocks I feel contributed to my selection. Those are the two innings I played in Deodhar Trophy for India ‘A’ – 53 vs Gujarat and 100 vs India ‘B’ – and the match-winning 127 in that mammoth 480 run-chase for Rest of India against Mumbai in Irani Cup in March,” Fazal said. “The timing of those innings was crucial. They came in difficult batting conditions with the selectors watching.”
The India selection has come 11 years after playing for India U-19 and 13 seasons after his first-class debut. The aggressive top-order batsman felt that this was the right time for him to make the cut.
“I feel I am more matured now. I enjoy playing limited-overs cricket and at the same time, would love to be in the Test team. This being my first call for India, I am really happy,” the soft-spoken Fazal said, measuring his words.
“This is the reward for my hard work in the last three-four years.”
While Fazal was planning his return to India, he was reminded that he could take a break for about three weeks for national duty and return to fulfil his contractual obligations for Hetton Lyons till September. “It did not strike me. I will talk to the bosses,” he said, hanging up his phone.