Even if 100 people tell me I won’t become a cricketer, I won’t listen to them, says Deepak Chahar in response to Greg Chappell
2018 has been a fantastic year so far for Indian fast bowler Deepak Chahar. After recovering from an injury, the Rajasthan pacer bowled brilliantly in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament and carried his form to the IPL where he sent a strong message to the selectors that he belongs to the top level, putting in some breathtaking performances for the eventual champions Chennai Super Kings.
The selectors rightly rewarded the 25-year-old for his performances by naming him as a replacement for fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah during the recently-concluded T20I series against England and Deepak even got to make his national debut for the Men in Blue in the all-important third and final T20I at Bristol.
At present, he is preparing for the quadrangular series featuring India A, India B, South Africa A and Australia A. Sportskeeda caught up with the Chennai Super Kings pacer and here are the excerpts from the interview.
Good SMA tournament followed by a brilliant IPL, India A call-up and then eventually the India debut. How have the last four months been for you?
It’s been good. I’ve waited for this moment only. I knew that I needed one good IPL season to play for the country. I’ve been playing Ranji Trophy since 2010. I knew I needed one good season. When I was in Pune, our captain Mahi bhai was willing to give me all the matches. But I got injured in the first year when he was the captain, next year Steve Smith became captain and I didn’t get many opportunities.
So, I knew Chennai would pick me in the auction and SMA also went well. So, I knew things were going my way. In IPL I got my opportunity, played all the matches and bowled with the new ball. It was good but I didn’t expect the T20 call-up since the team was already announced. Unfortunately, Jasprit Bumrah got injured but I got the call-up, which was a bit surprising.
How did your national debut go?
When you start playing cricket, it’s the dream to play for the country and wear that cap. It took me 16 years to achieve that. 16 years is a long time. I have dreamt day and night to get that. The wicket (in the debut match) was not the issue. In T20s you always get flat wickets, the main problem was the size of the ground. The boundaries were 50-55m. I asked everyone ‘is there a smaller ground in the world.’ Everyone said ’this is the smallest ground in the world.’
We had the mindset that we should not give more than 40 in 4 overs. If everyone gave 40 runs, they would score 200 and 200 was a chaseable score on that ground. So in that match, the players said 'well bowled' to me. No one said I didn’t bowl well. Only one or two balls were bad. Yeah, I feel I bowled well.
How did your 'A' triangular series go? Did it have an impact on you when you were preparing for your T20I debut?
It was different. Usually, it used to be cold in England but this time, it was very hot there - 30-33 degrees and ball was not swinging at all. Wickets were flat and slow. I got most of my wickets from reverse swing, not conventional swing. So, it was a good experience for me bowling with the white ball.
Nowadays with two new balls, it doesn’t reverse much in ODIs. We get dry, slow good batting wickets where batsmen score lots of runs. It was a good experience which helped me in the T20I match against England. Going directly from here and playing in the T20I would have made me wonder whether it would it swing or not, but I knew it wouldn’t swing much because I was already playing in the A series when the squad was announced.
How is it to work with someone like MS Dhoni?
As a player, I’ve always wanted to play under Dhoni, under his captaincy. When I got picked for Pune I was very happy. When I met him for the first time, unfortunately, I got injured (got a hamstring tear). I was walking back and he was coming in. The first meeting was like this.
He knows the strengths of the players and how to use them which makes him a great captain. He’s the one who believes in my all-around capabilities. When he was a captain, I always fielded in the main positions. He has played a key role in my career. Playing for the country, he’s played a big role.
What change did you see in the captaincy styles of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni?
Both have a different mindset. Dhoni is really calm and cool. He is a keeper so he stays far away from me. So, I can’t go and keep talking to him. He comes and gives advice between overs, before and after the match as well. Kohli is more aggressive. He fields at mid-off, close to you. So, when you're bowling you can discuss the plan. To be honest, I like both of them. I was comfortable with Virat as well, he gave me all the field settings that I wanted. In fact, both have given me the fields I have wanted.
What are the things you are working on now?
First of all, I’m thinking about working on my fitness. I’ve got three grade three hamstring tears. You never know when you get an opportunity. Whenever I get it, I must make it count. I know I must be strong, so I’m basically working on improving my fitness. I’m regularly in the NCA in Bangalore working on my fitness.
You were prone to injuries. How did you keep motivating yourself during the recovery time?
What I’ve learnt not just from cricket but any sport is coming back from failures and coming back from injury. It’s all about coming back strong again and again. I’ve had many injuries in the last few years. I’ve had injuries after increasing my pace. So, I know how to come back, and the mindset I should have before and after the injury
There were reports that Greg Chappell had issues and even rejected you before you made your Ranji Trophy debut. How do you take such criticisms?
What he said was his own opinion. Not a single person can tell me that I will become something I am not. Even if 100 people tell me I won’t become a cricketer, I won’t listen to them. I know I’ve worked hard and will achieve what I want to. It doesn’t matter what anyone says about me.