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Would like to dismiss Virat Kohli in IPL 2022: Chetan Sakariya

Last updated on 17 Mar 2022 | 06:16 AM
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Would like to dismiss Virat Kohli in IPL 2022: Chetan Sakariya

The young left-arm seamer talks about his India debut, playing for Rajasthan Royals, forthcoming IPL season, and much more

The last 12 months have left behind both happy and sad memories for young left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya. While fighting personal tragedies at home, Sakariya also scaled new heights in his cricketing career. Good performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament helped him fetch a contract of INR 1.2 crore from the Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2021. This was followed by a national debut against Sri Lanka in July, and an even bigger contract of INR 4.2 crore from the Delhi Capitals for IPL 2022.

Sakariya, who has made quite a fan following for himself not just with his swing but also with his charming smile, caught up with for a lengthy chat ahead of IPL 2022. Here are the excerpts -

Were you expecting to make your India debut soon after playing your first IPL season?

No, I never thought that I will get to play for India soon after the IPL. But people in my circle were talking about me being considered in the probables for the Sri Lanka tour. At the most, I was expecting to travel as a net bowler, but to make a debut was definitely not something I was expecting.

Tell us about the experience of playing for India. Your biggest takeaway?

After going to Sri Lanka and playing for India, the first thing I realised was that international cricket is a different game psychologically. You need a lot of mental preparation to play international cricket. A few close games were played on that tour but the players were quite calm. I was pretty fascinated by how they could keep so calm in crunch moments. I asked Bhuvi bhai about how he was always so calm and he told me that it is all about enjoying the game. He explained to me that being nervous will only spoil the enjoyment. Even in my debut game, the likes of Shikhar bhai and Hardik bhai walked to the mid-off to tell me to just enjoy the game and not think much.

Which debut made you more nervous? India or IPL?

Mentally, of course, the India debut was more challenging. I didn’t keep high expectations from myself in my IPL debut game. I was happy about the fact that they gave me a chance and wanted to do my best. But playing for India is obviously mentally challenging. 130 crore people are watching the game. You work hard for years and years to play for India and when that day finally arrives you are bound to feel nervous. Plus I was the youngest in the Indian team, which made me even more nervous. I was doubting myself and kept wondering what would happen if India lost the game because of me.  

Rahul Dravid was the coach of the team on the Sri Lanka tour. How was your experience of playing under him?

Rahul sir gave me lots of inputs. One of our conversations was very long but I will tell you in brief. I wasn’t getting the opportunity to make my debut because of an already strong starting XI. So one day after the practice session Rahul sir came and told me to keep myself prepared irrespective of not getting a chance in the team. He told me that making a debut was not in my hands, but being prepared was something that I had full control over.

To make sure that I didn’t lose my morale, he listed out my strengths to me and told me to never doubt myself. I remember him telling me about how Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar) bhaiya and Deepak Chahar have proved that one can win matches even with limited pace, and that was something that gave me a lot of confidence.

Most memorable moment for you from IPL 2021?

Picking MS Dhoni's wicket is definitely the best moment for me from IPL 2021. My debut game was also special but nothing like taking Dhoni bhai’s wicket. He is a legend of the game and to bowl to and dismiss a legend is always a very good feeling.  

Apart from MS Dhoni, which other two batsmen would you like to dismiss in IPL 2022?

I bowled to de Villiers in the nets as well in the match. It is very difficult to bowl to him because he plays all sorts of shots in the death overs. But now that he has retired I will not be able to get a chance to dismiss him. So Virat bhai is the one batsman I’d like to dismiss in IPL 2022.

Which other batsmen have you found challenging to bowl to?

Kl Rahul was in very good form last season so bowling to him was very challenging. He won Punjab Kings a lot of matches by himself last season and was a cut above the rest. In fact, he still is. And bowling to Rohit Sharma is also very challenging. Both Rahul and Rohit bhai play all sorts of shots and mostly bat in the powerplay overs. They are powerplay specialists. So it's very difficult to bowl to these two.  

One sweet memory from your debut season with the Rajasthan Royals?

Well, your first season is full of lessons and memories. I remember a brief conversation with Ben Stokes in my debut game which really boosted my confidence. Playing against Punjab, I bowled a good over in the powerplay, which was also my first-ever over in the IPL. But I botched up in my third over in which I bowled both good as well as bad balls, including a no-ball. I overstepped at a time when the game was already slipping away from our hands and we couldn’t afford to leak extra runs.

That was when Ben stokes walked up to me from the long on which is where he usually fields. He told me that I had done no crime by bowling a no-ball and that every bowler oversteps once in a while. He also reminded me of the 20 runs he conceded in the last over of the T20 World Cup final to emphasize that not all deliveries necessarily have to be good ones. That is one conversation I fondly recall.

Your life has changed immensely in the last one year. How would you describe the transition?

You can say I've gone from being zero to a hero in a year.  Until a year ago I was struggling in several ways - professionally, personally, financially.  But things got better after playing the IPL. Financially I got better and started dreaming of things I always thought were out of my reach.  My family can now lead a much better life. I consider myself a strong person to have been able to get through the bad phase of my life, and I am thankful to God for giving me the strength to fight the bad days.  The last year was both good and bad for me. I made my India debut in 2021 but lost my father only months after losing my brother. But that is life. Ups and downs will happen.  

You have a fairly big fan following on social media. Is it the same offline too? Do people ask for selfies?

Well, I have this memory from the Ahmedabad airport where people started crowding after recognising me. A similar incident happened at the Jaipur airport where people were asking me for selfies. I think I have made some fans in these two cities because of my connection with them – Ahmedabad being the capital of the state I hail from and Jaipur being home to my first IPL team.

How challenging is life in a bio-bubble? You’ve been in plenty of them.

Bio-bubbles are mentally challenging because you are mostly by yourself. When you are all alone, it is very likely for several thoughts and anxiety to conquer your mind. This is especially true if you are already upset about something. Sometimes after a bad game, you feel irritated. But from another point of view, you get to know yourself much better when you are all alone. So that’s the good thing about being in a bubble.

Ranji Trophy has returned after one year. How significant is this for all of you playing the tournament?

Ranji trophy is very important for two reasons. You already know the first reason – your performances in the tournament play a big role in your national call-up.  But Ranji Trophy is also important for those players who don't play the IPL because they can earn some money from the four-day games. Last year, especially, a lot of players were financially hit by the pandemic when domestic and club matches were not held. This year they will be able to earn from the first-class competition.

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