Faiz Fazal, 15 Yrs of First-Class Cricket & 2 Ranji Trophy Titles

Faiz Fazal led Vidarbha to their second-straight Ranji Trophy title on 7 February.

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Cricket
3 min read
Faiz Fazal led Vidarbha to their second-straight Ranji Trophy title in Nagpur on 7 February.
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“....We don't care even if we are called the underdogs... Ultimately winning this game is important for us,” Vidarbha captain and batsman Faiz Fazal had told Espncricinfo on the eve of his team’s first Ranji Trophy final last year.

One year later, and Fazal has led his team to their second-straight Ranji title, a feat only four other teams have achieved in the history of the tournament.

Last year, the 33-year-old Fazal had scored over 900 runs including a double century in a season where Vidarbha trumped seven-time champions Delhi by nine wickets to clinch their maiden Ranji title. The skipper continued leading from the front in the 2018-19 season, finishing as his team’s second-highest scorer after Wasim Jaffer – with 752 runs in 11 matches at an average of 50.13.

Skipper Faiz Fazal celebrates with teammates after Vidarbha clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy on 1 January 2018.
Skipper Faiz Fazal celebrates with teammates after Vidarbha clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy on 1 January 2018.
(Photo: PTI)

Then and Now

After leading Vidarbha to their first-ever Ranji title, skipper Fazal had termed his team’s win as his career’s “biggest achievement” – bigger than the one time he got to represent India. But this time, he said the “emotions are different”.

It feels unreal. Behind this there is a lot of hard work. The emotions are different from the first time we won it. The pressure and expectations were higher this time. Our off-season preparation went very well and we worked very hard. The best chef doesn’t reveal all the ingredients and I would say that we worked hard. I can’t thank the support staff as they worked really hard with and on us.
Faiz Fazal

Though he has 15 years of experience in domestic cricket, Fazal’s only international game was when a second-string Indian team toured Zimbabwe in 2016. Opening the innings, the 33-year-old scored an unbeaten half-century at Harare and stitched a 126-run stand with KL Rahul to win India the match by 10 wickets. However, he never got another chance to play for India.

The only player in the Indian squad without an IPL contract, Fazal became the first Indian player in 16 years to make his debut in his thirties with that game.

Faizal’s Journey

Since making a century (151) in his first-class debut back in December 2003, Faiz has been a regular feature in Vidarbha’s top order. He now has 7,810 runs in 113 first-class matches.

I have been leading Vidarbha since my age-group cricket days. And to lead a Ranji team is not an easy thing.
Faiz Fazal

In 2004, he missed a major chance to play the Under-19 World Cup after an injury forced him to withdraw from the squad just days before the team left for Bangladesh. In fact, he was replaced by opener Shikhar Dhawan who went on to become the highest run-scorer in the tournament.

The highlight of Faizal’s career was his 714 first-class run hit at an average of 44.62 during the 2015-16 season. He scored three centuries including a match-winning 127 for Rest of India in the Irani Cup, and put up consistent scored in the Deodhar Trophy. It was this purple patch in the domestic circuit that had won Faizal his maiden India call-up.

Fazal has played for Rajasthan Royals for four seasons of the Indian Premier League, before being left out in 2012. And though he hasn’t been picked for an IPL team since, he has played for Hetton Lyons in the North East Premier League in Durham.

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