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Deepak Chahar on returning from big injuries: 'Mentally it's very tough'

Chennai Super Kings' pace spearhead says it takes time to get back into top rhythm, and he's continuing to work on his death bowling

As the senior bowler, Deepak Chahar has extra responsibility in MS Dhoni's side  •  BCCI

As the senior bowler, Deepak Chahar has extra responsibility in MS Dhoni's side  •  BCCI

Coming back from a string of big injuries in 2022 is tough work mentally, Deepak Chahar feels. He was out for most of the first half of 2022 and then had a stop-start second half of the year, and has now gone two IPL games without a wicket. It will take time to get back to peak form, he said.
"Mentally it's very tough," Chahar told select Indian newspapers in Chennai. "I had two major injuries, which are critical for a fast bowler. Other pacers are also struggling with a stress fracture in the back. It takes a long time to recover from that.
"When you start playing it takes time to get back to your best, it takes time mentally and physically, and I'm getting there slowly."
Chahar had suffered a quadricep injury in February 2022, and while undergoing rehabilitation for that, he hurt his back. That turned out to be a stress fracture, and he was sidelined for six months overall. He returned for India's ODI series in Zimbabwe in August, showed signs of getting back to his best - he was named in India's reserves for the T20 World Cup - but then had to sit out again, from an ODI series against South Africa, because of a stiff back. He returned for the tour of Bangladesh in December, but was forced off the field after bowling just three overs with what turned out to be a quadricep tear. He played no further part in India's home season, and has played just the lone game this year - a Ranji Trophy match for Rajasthan - coming into the IPL.
Before the IPL, he had told PTI that such injuries were particularly hard on pacers. "They are both very big injuries. You are out for months," he had said. "Anyone who comes back after the injury it takes time, especially fast bowlers.
"If I was a batter, I would have been playing way back, but as a fast bowler..."

CSK's Dwayne Bravo-sized gap at the death

Chahar, bowling alongside the less experienced Tushar Deshpande and Rajvardhan Hangargekar, has bowled more at the death this season as Super Kings continue to search for a way to plug the hole left by Dwayne Bravo's exit. Chahar, who for long was a new-ball swing specialist, said he has been working hard on this aspect of his game.
"In powerplays, you bowl with a new ball and have only two fielders outside whereas in the slog overs you bowl with an old ball and have five fielders outside. I take it as a challenge and I also practice a lot," he said. "Earlier, I didn't bowl much because we had more options to bowl at the death. Since I have many variations - yorker, knuckle ball, slow bouncer, legcutter, wide yorker, offcutter - I decide according to the batter and the pitch and execute [at the death] accordingly."
In Super Kings' first game, against Gujarat Titans, Chahar bowled two overs in the powerplay and then the 17th and 19th overs, finishing with 0 for 29. Against Lucknow Super Giants, in a run-fest at Chepauk, he bowled three in the powerplay before bowling the 17th over. With Super Giants needing 62 runs from 24, that over went for 18 runs, including three consecutive wides, much to MS Dhoni's chagrin.
Super Kings' next game is against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.