Tête-à-tête With Star Cricketer – Arzan Nagwaswalla!

Young and dynamic left-arm medium pacer from Gujarat, Arzan Nagwaswalla, has risen brilliantly and flourished into a great asset for any side he represents in the cricketing arena – making the country and moreover, the community, proud of his efforts. His ambition started off with a dream and the desire to give everything to the game he loves- ‘Cricket’. His biggest honour and motivation lies in being part of Team Gujarat. Tracking his journey, his outstanding progress on the field, is a consequence of the calmness, clarity and intelligence with which he plays his game. Having made the cricket stadium his second home and the ball his best friend, Arzan speaks with Parsi Times Sports Reporter – Binaisha M. Surti, about his incredible and successful journey, life in a bio-bubble due to the pandemic, gratitude for getting to play the sport again, his future goals and lots more…

PT: You’ve always invested a lot in your cricket over the years and now you look to make Gujarat a powerful team. Walk us through your journey.

Arzan: It’s been an amazing journey. I debuted at the age of 21 and then on, there’s been no looking back. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to get an opportunity to play for my domestic team – Gujarat, so early in my career. I’m grateful that my management trusted me and gave me the chance to prove myself. I was thrilled and also very nervous initially, being the youngest in the team. But my seniors were very welcoming. I was amazed at their support and confidence in me, especially the empowering way they pushed me to perform. Three years ago, I was dreaming about creating a name in my age group cricket, so they could pick me for Ranji Trophy. Today I’m blessed to be a part of Team Gujarat. I thank my family for their continuous support – they are the reason I’m standing here today.

PT: You’ve evolved fabulously as a left-arm medium pacer. What are your main learnings so far?

Arzan: I’d always observed and admired Team Gujarat’s experienced left arm pacer – Roosh Kalaria, the master of left arm bowling. When I entered the team, I knew I needed to keep talking and learning from him. He advised that I stick to my basics and do what I did playing at the age-group level, to just be myself. He’d tell me to trust my process and amazingly, results would automatically follow. Roosh would say that sometimes wickets do not count – it was the chances created through bowling and the pressure we’ve managed which sums up the team’s performance; that all days on field are not the same, just focus on your bowling, and everything will be fine. Till date I follow these learnings that I picked from him.

PT: What’s it like playing under the captaincy of Priyank Panchal and being groomed by coach Sairaj Bahutule?

Arzan: Earlier, while playing under skipper Parthiv Patel, he would advise us to constantly be on our toes from start to finish. That is the same process that we follow as a unit even today no matter what format we play. Priyank bhai also tells us the same thing, to dominate the opposition and be one step ahead of them at all times. We just believe and back ourselves to give our hundred percent while playing. Priyank bhai and Parthiv bhai’s captaincy is similar and they have been great leaders for the side. Priyank bhai gives us freedom to bowl according to what we think is correct, he always backs our decisions and supports us from the closest position while fielding. Sometimes he too advises us as to what delivery needs to be bowled and then it is our responsibility to back his decisions. Sairaj Sir too is a phenomenal coach and has been very instrumental in guiding us reach where we are as a unit today. He has introduced new things in our process, like team bonding activities and it is exciting to learn from him. He always backs us, has supported me tremendously and keeps all of us ‘together’ as a side, bringing out the best in all of us.

PT: Tell us about the challenges you faced due to the Pandemic and the Lockdown. How did you overcome them? How did you spend all that time?

Arzan: Thankfully, the situation was not as bad in Nargol, where I reside. When the lockdown eased, I’d go to the beach for physical fitness and training, hang out with friends and prepare our pitch for evening-practice. I worked a lot on myself during this difficult period. I got into the habit of meditation, kept myself mentally stimulated by reading books, surrounded myself with friends and family who gave me positive vibes. This was the only time I spent so much at home with family in the last five years. It was a good feeling having them around.

 PT: What were your aims before the season started again – playing the Sayed Mushtaq Ali T20 Tourney and Vijay Hazare Trophy – how do you prepare yourself before important milestones?

Arzan: We had no idea which tournaments would happen! Once we were informed, things materialized soon. I was hopeful about getting into an IPL side to gain more experience in the shortest format, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. But I’m certain, if I keep working hard and giving my best, that too shall come my way. I’m now concentrating on my process, no matter who we take on. I look to go out there, express myself and dominate in the middle. That’s the simple preparation – to not complicate things while playing and staying in the moment.

PT: You started off with a 6-wicket haul in the first match V/s Chattisgarh (6-54) in 9.5 overs during the Vijay Hazare Trophy in February. Tell us more…

Arzan: It felt amazing to start off on that great note. We were focusing on our plans; we would sit with the video analyst a day prior, watch videos and accordingly plan for every batsman. The analyst helped us understand more about a particular player, his stance, go to shots, strengths and weaknesses – this helped a lot. I kept things simple in the middle; when you get so many wickets during the first match of the tournament itself, it builds confidence. I was looking to build on this performance and take my team to the knock outs, and I’m glad we made it and will face Andhra next in the quarter finals.

PT: You’ve finished as the 3rd highest wicket-taker at the end of the group stages of Vijay Hazare, picking 15 wickets in 5 matches. Share your thoughts on that.

Arzan: I would ideally like to finish as the highest wicket-taker at the end of the tournament.

 PT: What’s life like currently for a cricketer – with the quarantine and then living in a bio-bubble for extensive durations during tournaments?

Arzan: It’s hard as we aren’t allowed to go out or mingle with anyone from the outside the bubble. We enter and exit during matches from the hotel’s back door. We can neither leave our floors nor use the reception or main dining areas. We have specific time slots for gymming. We are regularly tested to ensure safety from the virus. But, on the positive side, we get more time to work on ourselves and our game.

PT: What are your future goals?

Arzan: I hope to play for Team India someday – that’s my biggest dream and I will work hard to achieve it.

PT: What would you like to say to your fans and our community members who take pride in your achievements as a cricketer?

Arzan: Please keep praying and supporting me as always and I will give my best on field. Also, a very big thank you to the entire Zoroastrian community for always backing me and my team!

Parsi Times wish Arzan the very best for a bright future; may he reach the cricketing pinnacle of success! 

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