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21 and done: Teen strikes

cricket Updated: Nov 02, 2010 02:49 IST
Kaleem Khan
Kaleem Khan
Hindustan Times
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Few debutants in Ranji Trophy make banner headlines. Deepak Chahar, an 18-year-old from Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, had certainly not fancied anything of the sort before delivering the first ball on Monday, the opening day of the 2010-11 Ranji Trophy season.

But just an hour into the match, he was on the cusp of delivering his team Rajasthan, opposition Hyderabad, and himself into history books. Eighteen minutes later he did.

Numbers say a lot. His figures: 7.3-2-10-8 and Hyderabad's first innings total: 21 tell the complete story.

For the rare handful who were there to witness the first hour's play, more out of compulsion as they were on duty, it was a slice of history they'll want to preserve and tell their grandchildren.

The seamer, through an amazing display of seam bowling, tore through the southern state's line-up and sent them packing for the lowest first-class total on Indian soil.

That the batters were at sea is evident from the fact that his wickets were either bowled or caught behind the wickets. They made matters worse by some average strokeplay but Chahar was at his wily best.

The home team management had left a bit of live grass. To their luck, they won the toss and put the opposition in.

"I had never thought I'd do this well, though before the game had started, I had targeted a five-wicket haul," said Chahar.

More in the mould of Praveen Kumar, Chahar moves the ball in the air and makes use of the conditions well.

"I have to credit my dad for the encouragement he gave me. He'd wake me up at even 3 in the morning just to ensure I had my day's quota of milk. It helps if you get encouragement from your family," he says.

Chahar was born in Agra but his father, who retired from the Indian Air Force as Sergeant, got posted in Hanumangarh. "I was just 12 when I came to Hamumangarh," he says. "All through he allowed me to play cricket without any guilt feeling. Studies were important but he allowed cricket to be the most important."

That has stuck on. He practices 11 hours a day, exercises included.

In fact, he has not even taken admission in first year. "I haven’t found time to enrol in the college," he says without any sign of regret.

Former Delhi captain, Aakash Chopra, who is playing for Rajasthan this season and was witness to the mayhem was all praise for the lad.

"We knew he'd arrive with a bang. I was expecting him to do well," Chopra said.

Chahar has been a member of the Rajasthan under-19s and had impressed the selectors well enough to get the nod.

In fact, people who know him say that he is a tireless worker. "He had to be stopped because he would just go on and on at the National Cricket Academy," said a friend of his.

With all the hype about youngesters catching the eye of franchises after one good outing in Ranji Trophy, all eyes will be on this lad. Who’ll grab him?

"It is too early to say. But I am sure someone comes calling. For now though, my job is to concentrate on this season."