The seam was upright, the ball had venom and the bails were uprooted. As Deepak Chahar’s inch-perfect yorker crashed into Aminul Islam’s off-stump, the pacer’s redemption was finally complete. Not only had he become the first Indian male cricketer to scalp a T20I hat-trick but Chahar also fired the ‘Men in Blue’ to a series victory with best-ever T20I bowling figures. While his achievements were lauded by one and all in Nagpur, a certain Australian too must’ve taken noted of Chahar’s heroics, who once deemed him unfit to get into the Rajasthan side.
In 2008, Greg Chappell, then Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy director, felt Chahar didn’t have it in himself to make it big on the international stage but fast-forward a decade, not only the medium-pacer has become a household name but seems to have booked his ticket on the plane to Australia next year. From being left out of final 50 for Rajasthan to being a regular in T20I squad, Chahar’s journey has been incredible, to say the least. Criticisms, injuries and death of chances tried their best to derail his career but Chahar worked hard and won the right to wear the blue of India.
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“With the benefit of hindsight, I think it was good that I was sent back home because thereafter I worked really hard and within two years I was playing the Ranji Trophy for Rajasthan. You can say that Greg Chappell’s comments brought out the best in me. I changed my fitness regime, worked on my bowling action, increased my pace and now my fastest ball is around 140 kph,” Chahar was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz in 2015.
Two years on after Chappell criticism, Chahar took his maiden bow in Ranji Trophy and blew away Hyderabad with a sensational eight-wicket haul. But before he could build on that, sickness and injuries made it difficult for him to get a consistent run. Undeterred, Chahar got back in the scheme of things for Rajasthan and became a regular in domestic circuit before a string of consistent performances in Syed Mushtaq Ali (India’s premier domestic T20 tournament) put him in contention for the Indian Premier League.
Chahar was bought for 80 lakhs by Chennai Super Kings and that should be seen as a turning point in his career. Under the leadership of legendary skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chahar showed glimpses of his talent in 2018 before taking the league by the scruff of its neck in 2019. 10 wickets in his first season for CSK saw them lift the title while 22 in the subsequent edition helped him become a regular face in India’s T20I squad.
Despite his heroics for CSK in 2019, he was made aware of his responsibilities the hard by none other than Dhoni. A video of Chahar being lambasted by Dhoni went viral but he later revealed, it was for the right reasons. “Obviously he was angry, as a captain I would have also got angry in such a situation, bowling two beamers you know. They needed 39 runs, suddenly they needed 31 runs. He was angry with the selection of the delivery. The ball was wet and my judgment was not right,” Chahar had said when asked about the incident.
Chahar has already shown he can hold his own in the toughest of circumstances. The Chappell incident made him learn the hard way at 18 while tough love from Dhoni in IPL made him ready for the biggest stage. He is now a multiple-record holder in international cricket but according to him, it’s all God’s doing.
“Came to know in the end that I got a hat-trick since I got the first wicket off the last ball of previous over. Even if you sit back at home and dream, you will not think that in four overs, you will get six wickets for 7 runs. “I’ve just been wanting to work hard. It’s all God’s help that I’m here. Today the plan was to bowl upfront with the new ball. I was told I’ll be bowling the crucial overs. Happy the team management gave me that responsibility.” Chahar said in a video uploaded by BCCI.