Who is Tanveer Sangha, the Australian leggie with Indian roots?

The second T20I against India may offer the Sydney boy a chance to celebrate his 22nd birthday on Sunday

Tanveer Sangha, 21-year-old Aussie leg-spinner of Indian origin, makes Indian debut (photo: Getty Images)
Tanveer Sangha, 21-year-old Aussie leg-spinner of Indian origin, makes Indian debut (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Tanveer Sangha, the 21-year-old Australian leg spinner of Indian origin, may not be an unknown quantity altogether, but it’s the first time he is seen in action on Indian shores. Despite a mixed outing in the first T20I on Friday, the Sydney boy may again be seen in action in their second fixture at Thiruvananthapuram on his 22nd birthday on Sunday.  

The last few months have seen a number of Indian origin players turning out for other countries in the just completed 50-over World Cup. While the most standout performer among them was Rachin Ravindra for New Zealand, qualifiers Netherlands alone fielded three in Aryan Dutt, Vikram Singh and Teja Nidamanuru. Sangha, who was not a part of Australia's cup squad, got his chance as the team management offered much-needed rest for their leading spinner Adam Zampa. 

Pitted against some of the finest stroke-makers in the T20 format like Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan, the young leg spinner was not afraid to toss the ball up and finished with figures of 2/47 from his four overs — taking out Kishan and Tilak Verma.

As the 50-over world champions look to shore up their depleting spin department, Sangha — who grabbed the limelight with a 4-31 on debut against South Africa in August — may be going through a trial by fire against the Indian batters here.

But who really is Tanveer Sangha, only the second player of Indian origin after Gurinder Sandhu to wear Australia colours? Born in Sydney to Punjabi parents Joga Sangha and Upneet, Tanveer completed his schooling from East Hill Boys High School in Sydney. His father, according to media reports, hailed from a village near Jalandhar and started working as a taxi driver after migrating to Australia, while his mother is an accountant. 

Back in 2018, a 16-year-old Tanveer first caught the eye of former Australia leg spinner Fawad Ahmed in club cricket. His first moment under the spotlight came when Tanveer finished with 15 wickets in the 2020 U19 World Cup in South Africa to emerge as their leading wicket taker. This earned him a contract in the Big Bash League (BBL) for Sydney Thunder, while he also made his debut for New South Wales Blues.  

The very next year, he was picked for the T20I series vs New Zealand though he had to wait for two more years to make his way into the playing eleven. Tanveer eventually stepped out to play against South Africa on 30 August at Kingsmead in Durban, and was right on the money to exploit the rivals’ well known weakness against leg spin — claiming the wickets of Aiden Markram, Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs, and Marco Jansen to make a memorable debut with a haul of 4-31. Chasing 227, South Africa were bowled out for 115 in Durban, courtesy Tanveer’s brave approach. 

It was easily the finest T20 debut by any Australian in the last 20 years, since paceman Michael Kasprowicz’s 4/29 back in 2005. In a fledgling career, Tanveer has shown his potential by claiming seven wickets from three T20Is at an economy rate of 9.75 and two wickets from as many ODIs at 6.94. 

The long, hard road has just begun for the leg spinner, but with Zampa already in his early 30s, an exciting future lies ahead.

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