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Teen tweaker Sangha shocked by T20 call-up

Tanveer Sangha started this Big Bash League season feeling nervous about playing in front of crowds and cameras, now he is on the cusp of debuting for Australia.

The rise and rise of Sangha, the legspinning sensation who celebrated his 19th birthday shortly before making a BBL debut for Sydney Thunder in December, has been remarkable.

The teenage tweaker, who is yet to play first-class cricket, was regarded as a potential star even before representing Australia at last year’s under-19 World Cup.

But few would have predicted that Sangha could follow in the footsteps of David Warner, who memorably launched his international career by becoming the first man since 1877 to represent Australia before playing a first-class match.

Certainly not Sangha, who is still processing the fact he will depart for a Twenty20 tour of New Zealand after what he hopes will be a Thunder victory in the BBL final.

“I really didn’t expect it. At all,” Sangha told AAP.

“George Bailey called me up.

“He said I’d been picked for the New Zealand tour, the selectors were really impressed by my performance in the Big Bash and he was looking forward to spending time with me.

“It is such a surprise. I’m just trying to focus on BBL and the final we have on Sunday.”

Sangha admitted he was nervous on BBL debut and during the Thunder’s first few games of this season.

“But with each game I’ve got more comfortable being around crowds, cameras and all that stuff – and that’s definitely helped,” he said.

Nathan Lyon, among the brains that Sangha has picked while honing his craft in recent years, and Justin Langer were responsible for some of the congratulatory messages that flooded his phone.

“I didn’t have JL’s number. I got a nice text from him,” he said.

“Mum and dad were over the moon. Very proud and excited.”

Shane Warne, whose 1001 international wickets have cast a shadow on every tweaker to have played for Australia since 2007, is yet to talk the art of legspin with Sangha.

“But I’d definitely love to,” the 19-year-old said.

Lyon and Adam Zampa delivered some sage advice during NSW’s pre-season training.

Veteran legspinner Fawad Ahmed, who played five white-ball games for Australia and was part of the 2015 Ashes squad, has been a key mentor.

Ahmed and Sangha worked together when the latter was 16 and signed a development rookie contract with the Thunder.

“Fuz definitely helped me with a few things,” Sangha said.

“I try to learn as much as I can – from what I see and from what I talk to other legspinners about.”

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