Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had a memorable IPL 2018 as he became Royal Challengers highest wicket-taker. While RCB’s perfrmance left a lot to be desired, Chahal continued his good run of form to pick up 14 wickets in 12 matches. With his mind firmly focussed on the next assignment- India’s tour of England, Chahal is honing skills at the National Cricket Academy under the tutelage of former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani. Recently, the 27-year-old took time out to feature on the popular chat show- Breakfast With Champions where he recalled some of his most memorable experiences including the debut series in Zimbabwe where he received his maiden ODI cap from MS Dhoni and how the veteran Indian wicketkeeper made him feel at home.
Recalling the day before he came to know of his selection and his experience after that, Chahal said, “I had a good IPL season and never knew the team was going to be announced. When the names were revealed on the BCCI website, I could believe my eyes and kept looking it for half an hour. Seeing my name I cried a lot. The day I wore the jersey, I can’t even describe in words.”
“I received the ODI cap from MS Dhoni. He is a legend and the first time I met him I was not even able to talk in front of him. When I met him for the first time in Zimbabwe I used called him Mahi Sir. After a while, he called me over and said, ‘Mahi, Dhoni, Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Bhai… Call me whatever you want but not sir’,” Chahal reminisced.
Chahal also revealed that skipper Virat Kohli has been a source of inspiration everyday. Kohli’s positive attitude not only helps him on the field but also off-the-field.
“Virat bhaiya (big brother) inspires me a lot. Both on and off the field, he helps me a lot. He told me that my life has changed and I need to stay fit. Now I know that fitness is important. Even I am feeling better after working out”, he said.
Speaking about his role model Chahal said, “Shane Warne was my cricketing hero while growing up. First, my action, during under 14 was similar. In this action, in Haryana under 19, I changed my action in the middle of the match. I ran a little longer and knew there will be less spin and that paid dividends. That turned out to be my best decision. I never overthink in pressure situations because now I am mentally strong.”
Not many know about it but Chahal also shares a strong bond of friendship with Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds. “We’re very close. In 2011, I debuted with Mumbai Indians and he was also there with the team. He was lodged in the room next to mine so one day he came over and we went down to the pool and chatted for a while. Next day, he figured out my phone number from somewhere and messaged me saying, ‘Where are you?’ and we went out again. We developed a great bond from thereon and have been friends ever since.”
“Whenever I go to Australia, I love to go fishing with him. He is a great host. His wife even learnt how to cook Butter Chicken for me by following recipes on the internet. When I went there to meet them, there was Butter Chicken ready for me.
“He is also a very misunderstood person. Not arrogant at all. You get to know the real Andrew Symonds when you spend some time with him. He is always available and has even danced with me on a Haryanvi folk song ‘Ragini’,” Chahal signed off by saying.