Chetan Sakariya said his entire life flashed before his eyes when he made his international debut during the tour of Sri Lanka. The 23-year-old from Saurashtra featured in one ODI and two T20Is and claimed three wickets.
Playing for Rajasthan Royals, the left-arm seamer impressed everyone in the first half of the IPL 2021. He took seven wickets in as many matches. Sakariya was also the best bowler for Saurashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 12 wickets from five matches.
"When I was preparing to bowl that first ball, I had a couple of minutes to go through marking my run-up, warming up etc, and in that moment, I could see a flashback of everything that had unfolded in my life the good, the bad, the sacrifices, the support, the criticism - everything," he said in a release issued by his IPL franchise.
"So, it was emotional but gave me a lot of motivation to do well and that was the thought in my mind. To make it to the Indian team, it has been a dream come true. When I first heard of it, there were a lot of thoughts in my head, but I was unable to believe it.
"I pinched myself because I was wondering if it was even true. I didn't think of it in a way that I would get to play or not, just being a part of that dressing room was a huge moment for me."
Sakariya, who was bought by Rajasthan for INR 1.2 crore, also spoke about the time he spent with Rahul Dravid who was the coach of the Indian team in Sri Lanka. "I was shocked and startled at first because I couldn't believe that it was really him...he asked me about my family background, playing experience, etc.
"He also asked about cricket in Saurashtra and how we've been doing well in the last five years, and complimented me for my bowling and said he had followed my journey during the IPL, and that he liked how I bowled with the new and the old ball. So, it felt amazing that a legend like him knew who I was and was following my performances."
Sakariya said he also enjoyed training with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. "I met Bhuvi bhai during the nets, and saw him bowling consistently at one spot, so I asked him what the secret behind it was, and he told me that the secret was to feel the action, and make sure that the focus is on each step during the run-up. So that was special, and I've tried doing that as well."
Rajasthan have won three out of their seven encounters so far and are currently placed at No. 5. Sakariya said he has spent some time in Chennai under the guidance of RR's strength and conditioning coach AT Rajamani Prabhu and feels his team could make it to the playoffs. The remainder of the IPL is scheduled to begin in the UAE from September 19.
"I had about two weeks where I wanted to focus on explosive training because T20 is a format where you need to produce that explosive energy any time in the game. So, I was working a lot on that under humid conditions, which certainly helped me retain my fitness levels during the off-season.
"I think whichever matches we won were extraordinary matches, like we were able to achieve the unachievable targets. And whichever matches we lost, were close matches except the RCB one. Therefore, I just want to focus on doing well for my team because I know that if I'm able to contribute, we will be able to win and hopefully make it to the playoffs."
(With inputs from PTI)