If one would look at all-rounder Pawan Negi’s career graph, there are not many figures that catch your eyes. His Indian Premier League career record is: 13 wickets in 21 matches at an economy rate of 8.04. His highest score while batting in the IPL is 36. Negi’s overall T20 record is: 46 wickets and 479 runs in 56 matches. His first-class record is not impressive either — just three matches since his debut in 2011.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni with Pawan Negi during the IPL tie vs Mumbai Indians at Wankhede last year
In the last Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Negi finished with six wickets in seven innings and 173 runs in eight innings for Delhi. But Sandeep Patil & Co have gone beyond statistics while deciding to include Negi as the fourth spinner in the ICC World T20 and Asia Cup T20 squads announced yesterday.
“We must credit the selectors for picking a guy like Pawan. They have picked the right guy as per the conditions and format. A left-arm spinner is always handy while playing T20 cricket in the sub-continent. He is also a clean hitter. He is a more compact player than he was last year. He is in terrific form,” Negi’s Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya told mid-day.
Negi’s selection may have come as a surprise to many, but those who have seen him from close quarters feel the big break has come at the right time. Delhi Daredevils team director TA Sekar, who was the first to draft Negi in the DD Indian Premier League 2012 squad, said he is ideal for the shortest format. “His batting has improved by leaps and bounds in the last one year. He paces himself really well. He does not hit blindly and chooses the right balls and he was always a brilliant fielder. He is a very good pick for the World T20,” felt Sekar.
Dahiya added: "Negi ticks all the boxes. He can bat well, bowl well and field brilliantly."
Negi rose to prominence during his time with the Chennai Super Kings in 2014 and 2015 when MS Dhoni would occasionally use him as a pinch-hitter in the IPL. His quickish left-arm spinners were quite effective.
Chief selector Patil was quick to shoot down a journalist’s view that Negi was picked on Dhoni’s insistence. “No, it is not because of that,” Patil stated.
“At that number (lower down the batting order), we had to look at who can be more effective where he would get just one over or four balls to face and score 10-12 runs. A lot of names were discussed and the best guy was picked,” said Patil.
MS Dhoni (capt), R Sharma, S Dhawan, V Kohli, S Raina, Y Singh, A Rahane, R Jadeja, H Pandya, R Ashwin, H Singh, J Bumrah, A Nehra, P Negi and M Shami.