Indian pacer Deepak Chahar seemed to have found his mojo back in the IPL 2021 season for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The 28-year-old picked 8 wickets in seven games at an acceptable economy rate of 8.04 and was the strike bowler for MS Dhoni's men.
Intriguingly, his eight wickets came in just two games, where he picked up four-wicket hauls each against the Punjab Kings (PBKS) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). CSK once again looked like the side that they have always been, dominant and strong.
Deepak Chahar on CSK's struggle in IPL 2020
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Deepak Chahar explained why the IPL 2021 season was so successful for CSK and what changed drastically for them in just about six months after a dismal IPL 2020. He stated:
"The situation before the start of the IPL 2020 season was really bad for us. There are a lot of players in our squad who don't play regularly and hence we needed practice. We wanted to go to Dubai early but couldn't get permission. So we put a small 5-6 day camp in Chennai."
Deepak Chahar also shed light on the COVID-19 cases in the CSK camp that affected their preparation drastically. He explained how tough it is to make a comeback when the body becomes significantly weaker due to the virus.
"I was then tested COVID positive and had to quarantine myself for 16-17 days. Ruturaj Gaikwad also tested positive and had to quarantine himself for 28 days. If you are a bowler and you have had COVID-19 then it is really difficult to recover within 20-25 days and get back to your best," he added.
Chahar feels Suresh Raina's comeback also made a significant difference to CSK's team balance in the IPL 2021 season. He highlighted the challenges that CSK faced last season in the absence of arguably their best batsman. He said:
"Even Raina Bhai wasn't there and his absence did weaken our batting. His absence affected the balance of the squad, something which was restored in the IPL 2021 season when he returned."
MS Dhoni's impact on Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar has always been pretty vocal about how Dhoni has helped him evolve as a genuine wicket-taker by giving him much-needed confidence. The 28-year-old believes it is Dhoni's ability to back players and his amazing reading of the game that makes him a successful captain.
"This has been my fourth year at CSK and Dhoni bhai has shown his trust in me as his strike bowler. This trust is so important because he has not just inspired me but also many others. His best quality as a captain is about how to utilize a player on a particular day for a particular situation. I've bowled three overs in the powerplay in pretty much every game for CSK and have learned a lot through him," Deepak Chahar asserted.
After MS Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket in August 2020, many believed they would get to see the carefree and hard-hitting batsman turn back the clock. However, the 39-year-old struggled in both seasons with the bat.
But Deepak Chahar was quick to support his captain and explain why Dhoni had been in scratchy form. He also feels the veteran will only get better as the tournament progresses and reckons he will be back to his dangerous best. Chahar stated:
"A batsman cannot bat the same way for 15-20 years. If any batsman hasn't played regular cricket before, it is never easy to just come to a competition of the level of IPL and start performing, it takes time. He has always played the finisher's rule, which is even tougher when you haven't played regular cricket. Even in the 2018 and 2019 IPL seasons, Dhoni bhai started a bit slowly by his standards, but his strokeplay became fluent as the season progressed. So you might get to see the best of MS Dhoni in the second half of the season."
Deepak Chahar: The all-rounder
Over the years, Deepak Chahar's role in whichever team he has played for has become primarily that of a new-ball bowler. However, the 28-year-old insisted that he is a good enough all-rounder.
With the kind of incredible batting depth that CSK has, Chahar has to walk out to bat at No.11 for them. This is perhaps why he feels that the lack of deliveries faced has kept him from proving his batting credentials.
"I've worked equally hard on both my bowling as well as batting. But I don't face enough deliveries to show my batting ability. In CSK, Dwayne Bravo bats at No.9 and Shardul Thakur, who did well for India of late, is batting at No.10," Deepak Chahar said.
Shardul Thakur has played some important knocks for Team India across formats over the past six months. Deepak Chahar believes this was possible because his CSK teammate got enough balls to face. The 28-year-old still believes he can deliver with the bat and recalled his heroic innings for CSK against Punjab.
"Shardul has made his name as an all-rounder because of the deliveries he faced. So if i don't face enough deliveries, naturally I can show my batting ability. I had scored 40 runs off just 19 balls against Punjab when Dhoni bhai promoted me. I have also won so many games for my domestic team Rajasthan. So whenever I get a chance, I show my potential," he added.
Deepak Chahar on brother Rahul's sensational IPL 2021
Leg spinner Rahul Chahar was absolutely sensational for the Mumbai Indians (MI) this season, picking up 11 wickets in seven games at an excellent economy of 7.21. Brother Deepak Chahar has been extremely impressed with Rahul's performance and believes he is one of the best spinners India has at the moment.
"Rahul has been doing well for the past two to three seasons and has also played for India. There are a few bowlers get wickets when a batsman makes a mistake. But Rahul has the ability to beat the batsman's defense and dismiss him. Currently for me, he is leading the line among spinners in T20s and hopefully we will play together for India soon," Deepak Chahar stated.
The 28-year-old also reckons his brother will be more than handy in red-ball cricket because of his ability to deceive the batsman and get enough turn on the ball. He believes Rahul will get his opportunity in Test cricket in the future.
"Although he bowls well in T20s, I believe he will be excellent in the longer formats of the game. The way he applies the revolutions on the ball, you will see that he will do well in Test cricket too," Deepak Chahar concluded.