Delhi-born Chirag Suri will be coming back to India, but this time as the first cricketer from the United Arab Emirates to play in the Indian Premier League.
Suri was picked by Gujarat Lions for Rs 10 lakh during the 2017 IPL auction on Monday and he is over the moon at just getting the chance to play in the premier T20 tournament.
“For me, it’s wasn’t about money, it was just about experience. When that Lions’ bid came through, we were just happy. I didn’t care about another bid. I was just very happy to be a part of IPL. Playing under Suresh Raina and all these players, I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” the 22-year-old Suri was quoted as saying by Firstpost.
Born in Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh area, Suri began his tryst with the sport at the age of six when he joined an academy. His family migrated to Dubai in 2001 where he continued his dream of becoming a cricketer.
At 15, he was selected to represent the UAE under-19 team at Asian Associates tournaments in Thailand and Malaysia. With a new role as opening batsman, he became his team’s highest run-getter in a tri-series involving England and Pakistan. His knock of 70 against the England under-19 team earned him a call up to UAE’s senior side for the 2015 World Cup qualifier.
He also represented the junior squad in the under-19 Asia Cup and the under-19 World Cup.
Now, the top-order batsman --- likened to Virat Kohli by his teammates and coaches because of his expressive style of batting and birthplace, Delhi hopes to get a foot in the door for fellow Associate nation players to make it to the IPL.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a great platform. Being the first person from the UAE in the competition can open a lot of doors for Associate nations. Good to see them getting recognition. Honestly, I’m very, very happy,” he said.
Suri was very excited about playing in India and possibly meeting his idol Virat Kohli. “I love Virat Kohli. I really, really love Virat Kohli. He is my role model. Maybe, I try to copy him a bit here and there,” he said.
Asked about people calling him the “Virat Kohli of UAE”, he said: “Everybody calls me UAE’s Virat Kohli because of the way I bat. I emulate him a bit so, maybe, that’s why. My friends, my teammates, coaches, they all think that the way I play is a bit like Virat Kohli.”
Suri turned 22 on February 18, two days before the auction. While he didn’t celebrate then, he revealed plans to do so having finally made the squad of one of the teams in the IPL.
He was involved in practice matches against Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians when the IPL had temporarily shifted base to the UAE in 2014. His 70-odd runs from 40 balls against the Rajasthan side and 40-plus score against the Mumbai team had earned him praise from a few big names. However, the call to register for the IPL auction in 2015 and 2016 didn’t come.
He did, however, feature in the 2016 Masters Champions League which took place in the UAE where Brad Hodge was present. Suri believes his performance at the time might have had an impact in Hodge-coached Gujarat Lions picking him in the most recent auction.
While the opportunity of playing in the IPL is huge, Suri believes he still has a long way to go, at least as far as the comparisons with Virat Kohli go.
“I don’t think that I am even one-tenth as good as him (Kohli) but that’s what they call me. I wish I was one-tenth as good. And, I wish I had got one-tenth of his money. But yeah, it’s fine ,” said Chirag.