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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

IPL 2019: Deepak Chahar comes of age after bumpy start

Chahar has been dealing with criticism for a long time now. In 2008, he was deemed unfit to play at the higher level by Greg Chappell, then the Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy director.

cricket Updated: Apr 11, 2019 11:30 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Chennai
File image of Deepak Chahar
File image of Deepak Chahar(PTI)
         

Last week, the video of a miffed MS Dhoni rebuking Deepak Chahar went viral. The Chennai Super Kings player was guilty of bowling wayward at a crucial juncture against Kings XI Punjab. But admonishments don’t unnerve the 26-year old pacer.

Chahar has been dealing with criticism for a long time now. In 2008, he was deemed unfit to play at the higher level by Greg Chappell, then the Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy director. Undeterred, he made his first-class debut against Hyderabad two years later, aged 18.

Dhoni’s scolding was not unfounded. With KXIP needing 39 off 12, Chahar bowled two back-to-back no-balls. A high full toss was punished for four by Sarfaraz Khan before the next, another full toss, yielded two runs. Dhoni was livid.

ALSO READ: CSK predicted XI vs Rajasthan Royals - Dhoni expected to make tactical call

“I have received a thousand messages asking ‘What did Dhoni say?’. Obviously he was angry, as a captain I would have also got angry in such a situation, bowling two beamers you know. They needed 39 runs, suddenly they needed 31 runs. He was angry with the selection of the delivery. The ball was wet and my judgment was not right,” Chahar said on Tuesday.

The Rajasthan pacer came back strong and dismissed David Miller off the last ball of the over. “My selection was good after that,” Chahar said about Dhoni’s vocal tonic.

IPL record

Chahar didn’t repeat his mistakes against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday, and on a slow MA Chidambaram track choked the visitors with a spell of disciplined bowling to restrict them to 108/9. He returned with 4-0-20-3 that fetched him the Player of the Match award.

Chahar not only dismissed Chris Lynn, Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa but also bowled 20 dot balls — a record in the Indian Premier League. Five of those dot balls came in the 19th over as he kept the dangerous Andre Russell quiet. To think that Chahar started bowling at the death only from the previous match against KXIP makes his performance even more impressive.

“When Dwayne Bravo got injured (out for two weeks), it was necessary for me to bowl in the death overs. I was waiting for the opportunity for a long time. Proving myself as a death bowler will help me become a complete player,” said Chahar.

Armed with the ability to generate swing, Chahar exploited the conditions well in Pune in 2018, where CSK played six of their seven home matches. The slow track in Chennai offers no such help and Chahar understands that adjusting is a primary requirement to make progress.

“The conditions were helpful for fast bowlers (in Pune), lot of swing and seam off the wicket. This year we knew we are playing in Chennai. I practiced that way. Length is very important (when the pitch is slow). When ball is swinging you can get away with bad length. But when ball is not swinging, the length and line has to be very accurate. I am trying to perfect the slower ones, the slower bouncers,” said Chahar.

“I am a better bowler than last year. At this level you need a lot of confidence. Playing for India also helped me,” added Chahar, who made his ODI debut at the Asia Cup against Afghanistan last year. He also played a T20I against England in July.

‘Need better wicket’

Though CSK won, Chahar felt the slow pitch at Chepauk was not ideal. “We are looking for a better wicket. No one wants this type of wicket. It’s just the soil and the heat. You can’t help it. It’s too hot here. The pitch guys are doing their best to give us a good track but at the end of the day you can’t help it,” he said.

Even Dhoni reiterated his stance on the sluggish Chepauk pitch. “I don’t think we want to play on wickets like these because it becomes too low-scoring and it becomes slightly difficult for our batters to get going. And also what happens is that it’s slightly more difficult if you’re batting first,” he said.

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 10:59 IST