Ajit Chandila is one cricket’s journeymen. Chandila has struggled to make a mark in first class cricket and has played just two matches since making his Ranji Trophy debut for Haryana in 2010. Even when picked for the IPL,he had a quiet time with Delhi Daredevils in 2011. A hat-trick in the last season put him in the spotlight,but even before that he was a well-known figure in Kolkata,if only among the lower divisions.
The lanky off-spinner used to be a regular at the Kolkata maidan,playing in the Cricket Association of Bengal second division league for Taltala Institute. That was about seven years ago. Even then he was known for his ability to choke batsmen.
In the 2006 season,Chandila’s Taltala lost the second division final but helped the club win the second division Knockout Championship. Chandila’s captain at Taltala,Samir Ghosh,vividly remembers his performance that season.
“He was a top utility cricketer. A very good off spinner and a hard-hitting batsman who opened the batting a few times as well. He never had big turn but was always very accurate with his line and length. Change of pace was his main weapon. Also,he had a very good floater and got a lot of batsmen out caught at slip. We thought he would shine in first class cricket as well but that didn’t happen. But I’m really happy to see he is having a very good time with the Rajasthan Royals,” said Ghosh.
It really was the match against Pune Warriors last season that saw his stocks rise and now the spinner is Dravid’s preferred option to peg the batsmen back,either at the start or in the middle overs. In six matches,he may have scalped just five batsmen,but it is his economy rate of 5.73 that has proved invaluable for the side.
“Chandila might look a bit innocuous from a distance but we find him pretty difficult to read in the nets. He has quite a few variations and is steadily improving,” said Ajinkya Rahane.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders on an Eden Gardens turner on Friday,Chandila once again might be asked to open the bowling. He has dismissed the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting,bowling with the new ball. Come Friday,and he would love to add Gautam Ghambir to the list.