Beyond the Blues

A bowler in the Manoj Prabhakar mould

Bowling Hyderabad out for 21 came as a bit of a shock for us

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra
Manoj Prabhakar bowls against Pakistan

Deepak Chahar reminds Aakash Chopra of Manoj Prabhakar  •  Getty Images

Bowling Hyderabad out for 21 came as a bit of a shock for us. When they were three down, I remember a team-mate in the slips told me we might need to bat by around tea. I told him it was too early to say that. Ranji Trophy has taught me otherwise on many occasions.
I told him once the pitch dries out, once the ball gets a little order, there is bound to be a partnership somewhere. They might even bat out the whole day. It never crossed my mind that you can bowl a side out for 21, that too Hyderabad, who are no pushovers. They are no nobodies.
The wickets, though, just kept falling. Everyone just came and kept playing reckless shots. All of a sudden we were batting after the first drinks break. We didn't even have time for it to sink in.
When talking about the sensational events of the first session, it is important to go back two or three months. Of course Deepak Chahar, the right-arm swing bowler, has arrived with a bang with this performance of 8 for 10 on debut, which is phenomenal, but those who have seen him from the Buchi Babu, Moin-ud-Dowlah, or during practice in Rajasthan nets, were expecting good things of him.
I remember somebody asked me on Twitter, in September, if I had seen any new, young, raw talent, and I mentioned Chahar's name there. I have admired the way he bowls, the talent he possesses, the attitude he has, and the way he carries himself. He is a good promising kid with a bright future, and with his head in the right place, and priorities sorted out. He brings with him a lot of hunger to succeed. You just have to throw the ball at him, in fact he will snatch it from you. He has that Ishant Sharma attitude.
There was something in the track for the bowlers, but definitely not so much that somebody should come and take eight wickets on debut. The track had no such demons, the kind there were, for instance, for our game against Orissa in 2008-09. It was nowhere near that track. Our score of 220 for 2 by stumps tells the story.
Chahar, though, bowled really well. That nobody had seen him before helped, as did his ability to swing the ball both ways. I won't say he is rapid, and you don't expect a swing bowler to be rapid. If you had to draw a parallel with somebody, he would be like a Praveen Kumar or a Manoj Prabhakar, someone who had good control over swing, and a really good wrist position that got the ball to swing. They aren't rapid either. He is built like them too, not too tall. Similarly Chahar has a brilliant wrist position that allows him to bowl with the seam upright. Like we say in Delhi, uske haath mein swing hai [his hand has the swing]. The outswingers got the edges, the inswingers got them lbw and bowled.
The ball that he bowled to get DB Ravi Teja was a beauty. He is an opener, and he knows how to play the new ball. But if you haven't played Chahar before, there is a chance you will get fooled by the inswinger. His stock ball is the one that goes away, and swings appreciably, and the inswinger comes in like a banana. That's what happened with Ravi Teja. He was caught on the crease, completely clueless, and dead plumb. It was as if he had planned to leave the ball because it started way outside off, but it came back and thudded halfway up his pads. That was one of his best deliveries today.
Chahar is a good, young kid with a lot of energy, so much energy that you have to tell him, "Boss there is something called rest. You can't be bowling all the time. Running all the time." Once he got the five-for, that celebration was special. It felt extra special knowing that his father had given up his Air Force job just so that Deepak could play cricket.
His family is from Agra, and it was during his father's Jaipur posting that Deepak started playing cricket. You feel good for the kid when you know so much is riding on his performance. His family lives in Agra, and wasn't there to witness his debut, but I am sure he will give them more opportunities to watch him perform well.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here