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In October last year, Deepak Chahar found himself at the receiving end of a BCCI howler. The Rajasthan medium pacer was named in the Board President’s XI squad for the warm-up games against New Zealand, only for the board to rectify the “inadvertent” error and replace him with brother Rahul, a leg-spinner.
“I was happy for my brother. The disappointing part was that he couldn’t play as he got injured,” Chahar told The Indian Express. Maybe, Chahar’s seemingly anonymous presence on the circuit contributed to the case of mistaken identity. His performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match against Karnataka at JU Salt Lake campus ground on Tuesday would help the 25-year-old gain prominence. Chahar returned with his limited-overs career-best, 5/15, (his first-class career-best is 8/10 against Hyderabad on his Ranji Trophy debut) accounting for R Samarth, Abhimanyu Mithun, CM Gautam, Stuart Binny and Vinay Kumar in Rajasthan’s 22-run victory. Twice, he was on a hat-trick.
“This is my best bowling in shorter formats and I think we took Karnataka by surprise. I think it’s (today’s performance) very important, because the (IPL) auction is nearby and getting five wickets just before the auction is very good. I hope this performance counts,” Chahar said.
He has set his base price at Rs 20 lakh for the January 27 and 28 IPL 2018 auction, as he looks forward to build on his experience of playing for Rising Pune Supergiant last year. During the stint the youngster received important advice from MS Dhoni.
“I had some conversations with Dhoni bhai. I was very comfortable talking to him. He told me to work on my yorkers. I was basically selected as a batting all-rounder, but Dhoni bhai praised my bowling and asked me to work hard on it. He also advised me to improve my fitness,” Chahar recalled.
He had a tendency to break down. Illnesses, too, hampered his progress. “For the last three-four years I had been struggling with fitness issues. For me, the most important thing was to stay fit. Now I’m playing without any injuries and it has helped me bowl in good rhythm and (also) add some extra pace. I think I’m bowling close to 140s,” Chahar said.
Not many moons ago, Pankaj Singh used to be Rajasthan’s tenuous link to fast bowling. Things have changed of late, with the arrivals of Chahar, Nathu Singh and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The latter is leading the India U-19 pace attack in the ongoing U-19 World Cup, clocking 145kph consistently. Chahar gave a low-down on the pace surge.
“It’s all about the culture and trend. When I started playing Ranji, there was no fast bowler in Rajasthan except Pankaj Singh. Nowadays youngsters are encouraged to bowl fast. There’s competition for places. Everyone is under pressure to perform, which keeps you charged and motivated.”
Rajasthan 160/8 in 20 overs (Ankit Lamba 58; Sreenath Aravind 3/25) beat Karnataka 138 all out (Aniruddha Joshi 73*; Deepak Chahar 5/15) by 22 runs
In Kolkata (JU Campus): Dhruv Shorey’s fight went in vain, as Delhi lost to Bengal by three runs; Bengal 170/6 in 20 overs (Sudip Chatterjee 51) beat Delhi 167/8 in 20 overs (D Shorey 84; Kanishk Seth 3/25) by 3 runs;
In Kolkata (Eden Gardens): Washington Sundar picked important wickets towards the back end of the Uttar Pradesh innings, while Sanjay Yadav hammered a half-century, as Tamil Nadu won by five wickets; Uttar Pradesh 162/4 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 61, Washington Sundar 2/32) lost to Tamil Nadu 163/5 in 19.2 overs (Sanjay Yadav 52) by 5 wickets
In Kolkata (Eden Gardens): Yuvraj Singh’s laboured 33-ball 17 and Manpreet Gony’s bowling profligacy contributed to Punjab’s four-wicket loss against Jharkhand; Punjab 149/7 in 20 overs (Mandeep Singh 48; Kaushal Singh 3/26, Varun Aaron 2/20) lost to Jharkhand 150/6 in 19.3 overs (Ishan Kishan 54; Barinder Sran 2/19) by 4 wickets