Ranji Trophy 2010-11 January 16, 2011

Chahar hitches his wagon to a star

Deepak Chahar shot to fame by routing Hyderabad for 21 in his debut game. After a victorious season, Rajasthan's promising swing bowler has his eyes fixed on a promising future

For an 18-year old in his debut season of first-class cricket, Deepak Chahar is remarkably confident. He's taken 40 wickets in Rajasthan's maiden Ranji Trophy triumph, but that does not seem to be the cause of his self-belief. It seems to run much deeper, and is almost an innate part of his demeanour. He has come a long way after being rejected two years ago by Greg Chappell, the former India coach, at the Rajasthan Cricket Academy. "He told me that I could not play top-level cricket. Boys were being sent out of the academy on grounds of fitness, and he must have felt that I was not fit enough," Chahar said. "It was good for me actually, and that was the moment from where my life changed. I haven't looked back in the last two years."

His natural ability to swing the ball was showcased in his debut match, when he blew away Hyderabad for a record low of 21 with an eight-wicket haul. "I have bowled out a lot of teams cheaply, for 40 or 50, but against Hyderabad was too much. I will credit my father for developing my skills. He has been my coach since I started playing, about six-seven years ago. He used to play university cricket before he got a job in the Air Force."

A lot of effort has gone into getting Chahar's wrist and seam position right. "From around 15 metres, I used to take a step or two and bowl between 300 and 500 deliveries to my father - just to get the seam position right, to get control of the wrists. People believe that you have to practice control while running in, but I think you have to start from standing up and bowling. If you can develop control then, it will also come when you are running in."

Chahar can bowl outrageous inswingers, but his first season has taught him that a good outswinger will dismiss most batsmen, as Dale Steyn has consistently displayed at the highest level. "Earlier I used to bowl both outswing and inswing regularly, without any bias. But now, I have decided to focus a lot on outswing. I have also learnt to bowl on flat pitches."

Having won the highest domestic prize in his first year, Chahar does not understand why it is perceived that there is a huge difference between first-class and age-group cricket. "Maybe first-class batsmen are able to keep out even good balls sometimes, unlike Under-19 batsmen. But I don't feel a lot of difference. Only those who are India players come across as really special, like Rohit Sharma. The others don't really dominate you, even if they are not getting out."

While his swing has brought him into national spotlight, Chahar doesn't want to be slotted as a one-trick bowler. "If you are fast, you don't need favourable conditions. Guys like Shane Bond and Steyn have been able to swing it at 140-plus. I want to increase my speed by around 10 kph. If I can do that, the swing will be even more difficult to play. Right now, my average is around 128. I can bowl quicker, but the season has been long and hard, and my pace has gone down a bit due to the incessant travelling."

Chahar has been home for only two days in the last seven months, and the grind has taken its toll on his young body. There have been constant niggles, and he bowled in the final with a tape around his bowling arm. He is icing the area even as we speak.

"I hadn't worked much on my triceps earlier, as I did not want to build a lot of muscle in my arm. Maybe that is what is causing the problem. It is so important to rest as well as work hard in the gym. That is why for some time now, I have started using heavier weights."

He's used to bowling long spells, though, and proudly cites one instance from last year's Under-19 tournament. "How long do you think a fast bowler can bowl at a stretch? I bowled a 22-over spell in Ratnagiri against Maharashtra last season. I was in good rhythm, and just kept on going."

The initial success has brought with it the inevitable IPL contract, and he has been signed by Rajasthan Royals. He talks about developing his yorker for the shortest format. "I have to work on my yorker. The thing is, that delivery at my pace is not very effective. So there is another reason to increase my speed."

We are watching the highlights of the final on television, and Chahar beams broadly whenever he sees one of his seven wickets. He took out Ambati Rayudu and Baroda captain Pinal Shah at crucial junctures in the first innings. "I have never seen Hrishi bhaiyya (Hrishikesh Kanitkar, his captain) get as angry as when I bowled a short one to Pinal. I had asked him at the start of the over whether I should bowl the bouncer, and he had told me no need, just pitch it up and you will get him. But I ran in and bowled the short delivery, which went for a boundary. Fortunately, next ball I got him, and was spared my captain's wrath."

His new-ball partner and lead bowler, Pankaj Singh, has been a big help, and the pair has brought Rajasthan 83 victims in the season. "I have learnt a lot from Pankaj. He normally stands at mid-off or mid-on, and lets me know what type of delivery could work against which batsman."

Chahar is ambitious and aspires to play for the country one day as an allrounder. "I have this dream of becoming an allrounder. Now I have come up to No 8, gaining promotion in the batting order. I just want to remain not out. I don't like to get dismissed.

"You know, the dialogue from the movie Three Idiots, 'Don't run after success; strive for excellence'. The day I am able to swing the ball at good pace, I will hopefully play for India."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DINESH on January 18, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    Last Ranji season Mithun had taken 40 + wickets and everyone started praising him and compared with Glen Mcgrath and Wasim Akram. He also drafted into the Indian team. But he struggled even against Srilanka. Today people started praising Chahar. Please do not compare him with Wasim Akram or J.Srinath. Allow him to play for Rajasthan for another two / three seasons. So that he can improve his speed and line and length. He may not be WASIM AKRAM OR MOHD. AAMER. Let him remain as DEEPAK CHAHAR and play for India. Best of luck to him.

  • varun on January 17, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    Well i think Greg chappel rejecting a person must be the best thing that happened to any cricketer.... Its almost as if Greg has no eye for talent.. or should i say an eye for no talent.

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    Hats off for your performance in first ranji. However, IPL has destroyed many budding cricketers who are Test-cricket material. Ishant is live example of that. Bowlers instead of looking for wickets tend to become more of bowler who look for containing the batsmen (and while doing so they also manage to pick wickets of some mediocre batsmen (IPL is full of mediocre players)). With so many matches in IPL, they tend to reduce their pace so as to survive the entire tournament. No sooner the IPL comes to end, the bowlers' career is as good as over for real cricket. Come next season of ranji, last year's hero is forgotten and we start hunting for other new sensation.

  • P Subramani on January 17, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Deepak Chahar seems a level headed youngster as he has sussed up his strengths and weaknesses pretty well. He hails from a service family which explains why. He needs to increase his pace as he rightly says. He is not going to be a tearaway like Waqar Younis but he can be a fine bowler if he gets to 135 kmph consistently. In fact that is the pace at which he can be quite effective given his prodigous swing. A bright prospect without a doubt but he will need a strong mind to evolve well as we all wait for.

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    First, i like to appreciate Deepak Chahar.. Its a great match with Hyderabad and God, he is swinging like anything.. I never seen like that in domestic matches before... However his pace?.... but, good that he realized himself that his pace is not good enough to threaten in higher level.... Even swing with not much appreciable pace will not always work.. He has to develop his skills in swinging and increase his pace and become a final lethal product before start playing for India.. God bless you Deepak and as said by you "CONTINUE YOUR ATTITUDE IN THE LOVE OF GAME, PLEASE DON'T CHANGE IT" and one day victory will be with you... I love my India.. See you soon around with our folks..

  • noah on January 16, 2011, 19:13 GMT

    cmonn dude....build some muscle n hit the mid 140s consistently........

  • Sanjay on January 16, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    Agree with Majr on Unadkat. I was the Manager of that team and Unadkat could play the first game against WI A only because Sudeep Tyagi was unfit. He was chosen ahead of Jaskaran because of his attitude. He took 13 wickets on first class debut at Leicester and had a couple of catches dropped off him. He cannot be written off on the basis of one performance. We seem to think that a fast bowler, or for that matter any player is a quick-fix. It requires many years of hard toil at the highest level to become a finished product. Remember Zaheer when he began?

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    people like chahar must sent to the foreign countries for good triaining and must atleast get 1 year experienced and after polishing their skills he must sent for some tours with indian A team and later select him to senior team, anyway IPL is good platform eventhough its a different ball game

  • P Subramani on January 16, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    I feel sad that Thomas Cherian seems to have made Jaidev Unadkat one of the regrets in his thought process. I just want him to know unless he already does that Unadkat was picked out because of his performance in the U 19 World Cup and later from the KKR IPL team. Wasim Akram was very impressed with him.In fact he has that quickish run up of the early day Wasim and can swing the ball both ways. He failed in the first Test against South Africa when there was nothing in the wicket at the Centurion. Sreesanth and Ishant failed as well despite their experience. Unadkat is just 19 and weighs very little just yet. But he has a great future. I wish people would ait for him to deelop like they did with Srinath. He made his debut only at 25. Incidentally he is very academically inclined which I feel is good for him.

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Good to see fast bowlers winning matches.. Its a good sign for Indian cricket.

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