Opinion: MS Dhoni instrumental in Deepak Chahar's meteoric rise in T20s
The Indian pace-bowling department might have found their replacement to Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s guile and prowess with the ball. With the swing bowler is out of action due to incessant injury concerns, India were in search of a natural swing bowler. The past week might well have made Deepak Chahar a top-pick to fill those shoes.
Chahar’s rise has coincided with India’s search for a genuine swing bowler but surprisingly, it’s his death bowling that has impressed one and all. He took a hat-trick in his last over against Bangladesh in the final T20I and came back two days later to claim three wickets in three legal deliveries in the last over for Rajasthan against Vidarbha in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s domestic T20 tournament.
With a lot said and written about the brilliance of this 27-year-old medium-pacer, one must not forget the role of former Indian captain MS Dhoni in shaping up the bowler he is today. Chahar’s stint at Chennai Super Kings under the guidance Dhoni and former Indian pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji did wonders to his bowling, especially his ability to handle dew.
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Speaking to the Times of India, Balaji spoke highly of Chahar and appreciated his hunger to improve with every passing game. Balaji also explained Dhoni’s influence on the inexperienced yet talented pacer and how Dhoni’s tactics inputs improved Chahar. He stated,
“The good thing about Chahar is that he is always keen to learn,” said Balaji. “When he joined CSK, initially, he used to bowl only in the first 10 overs. But Dhoni was keen to use him at the death and see how well he has learnt. Dhoni told him to use slower balls and back of a length deliveries to make it tough for the batsmen. It was good to see he has learnt and he negotiated similar conditions so well."
In CSK’s IPL-winning campaign in 2018, Chahar picked up 12 wickets in 10 matches and showed glimpses of his ability in crunch situations. This performance helped him make India debut against Afghanistan. This year, Chahar’s 22 wickets in 17 matches helped CSK make the final against Mumbai Indians.
Chahar revealed his secret to counter dew and how CSK’s humid conditions forced him to learn to bowl with a slightly wetter bowl. Chahar stated that Dhoni kept things tight for the bowlers and asked them to use variations to execute their plans.
“Playing in Chennai [for CSK], I have now realised how to counter dew and sweat, how to keep my hands clean. At times, rub dry soil in your hands and then bowl.”
“We had to bowl one particular length and the bowlers were instructed on what they need to bowl and where they need to bowl... What really happens is once you are told what to bowl, you need to be bowling to that area. They need to commit and execute. It is not the planning but the execution that goes haywire.”
Chahar’s last 38 balls in T20s have yielded only 25 runs and more importantly, helped him claim 10 wickets. This puts him in good stead for a World T20 berth amidst some serious competition.