Been waiting for this chance: Priyank Panchal | Cricket News – Times of India

MUMBAI: For years — since 2008 to be precise — Priyank Panchal was at it, going through the domestic grind and piling up tonnes of runs season after season for Gujarat. Leading India ‘A’ in South Africa recently, he played his 100th First-Class match.
In a 13-year career so far, the opener has scored 7011 runs@45.52, with 24 hundreds and 25 fifties to boot. In the 2016-17 season, he slammed as many as 1,310 runs, including five hundreds, in 10 matches @87.33 to help Gujarat clinch the Ranji Trophy.

Yet, the closest he came to an India call-up was as a standby when England toured India in January this year.
Suddenly, all that perseverance bore fruit, and lady luck smiled on him from nowhere as he was called up for India’s Test tour of South Africa after a hamstring injury ruled out Rohit Sharma at the last minute.

“It was just three days back that I returned home from South Africa. I hadn’t even unpacked properly, and now, I find myself landing in Mumbai (to join the Team India bio-bubble),” Panchal told TOI. “I’ve been doing well since the last few years for Gujarat and India ‘A’, and I’ve been waiting for this chance for many years, but I didn’t expect to get this chance. This is a pleasant surprise,”he added.
The 31-year-old has been finally rewarded by the selectors for his amazing consistency. “It’s natural to feel a bit low after not getting a chance while I was scoring so many runs. However, my personality is such that I was always thinking: ‘What am I lacking now as a batsman? If I want to play for India, then what should I do to become more impactful? What kind of a game is required in international cricket? I’m glad that all my hard work and persistence have finally paid off,” he said.

It was his 96 in the first ‘Test’ for India ‘A’ against South Africa A at Bloemfontein on the recent tour that seemed to have convinced the selectors about his ability to replace Rohit for the forthcoming tour. “The experience of having played in South Africa recently will surely help me. I’m glad I’ve played for India ‘A’ for the last four-five years. That’s a big stage where I’ve played most of the international bowlers,” he felt.
Having led India A when Rahul Dravid was in charge there means that he has a fair idea of the new India coach. “When I became the India ‘A’ captain for the first time (against Sri Lanka A), I was excited, but Rahul sir told me to ‘just be normal, keep doing things like before. You have the ability, which is why you’ve been given this role.’ Those words really helped me,” said Panchal.

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