By Khurram HabibNew Delhi, July 21 : Deepak Chahar, who hit an unbeaten 69 in the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Tuesday to bring India back from the dead and lead them to a three-wicket win in Colombo, has wowed fans occasionally in the past with spells of seam bowling before disappearing into oblivion.
Only a few like his father knew he could bat as a proper batsman.
A couple days before the start of the ODI series, the head coach of the Indian limited-overs team in Sri Lanka, Rahul Dravid told the fast bowler that he is good enough to bat at No.7, and asked him to focus on playing on the ground and avoid aerial shots.
Chahar had already learnt those lessons early from his father, a cricket coach, and Navendu Tyagi, another coach, in the hot climate of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan and later in Agra.
“People are surprised.I am not surprised.When we were training him, the priority was bowling but we also told him to take batting seriously.
My idea was to have him bowl at 140 kmph, swing the ball both ways and also make him bat as a batsman,” said father Lokendra Chahar to IANS on Wednesday.
“Honestly, he didn’t get opportunities to bat up the order all these years.
He would walk in to bat at the end of an innings where there would be only a few balls left.I consider it my fault that we groomed him bat as a No.3 and No.4 batsman in his younger days so he developed this habit of waiting to settle in and didn’t learn to use the long handle straightaway,” added Chahar senior.
On Tuesday, Dravid had promoted him and sent him ahead of the more experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, at No.8 and asked him to face most number of balls.
“Dravid knew that he can bat and he can hit a few balls, so that (sending Chahar above Bhuvi) was his call,” said Bhuvneshwar in the post-match presser.
“Rahul sir told me to play all the balls.I’ve played a few innings with India A and I think he has belief in me,” said Chahar after the match at the presentation.
As batsman, Chahar hasn’t done much with India A.Over the past three years, there have been just odd knocks like a couple of thirties – a 31 in England and a 38 during a quadrangular series or a 21 during a tri-series.
Probably, his best known knock over the past few years came during the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2018 when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni promoted him ahead of himself in a match against the Punjab franchise (then known as Kings XI Punjab).
He made 39 off 19 balls before being dismissed on the 20th ball as CSK won that game by five wickets.
“Dhoni has given him a lot of confidence.
He gave him the new ball too this season and asked him to bowl all his four overs in one spell,” added Chahar senior.
Deepak picked eight wickets in seven IPL 2021 matches and while five those games went wicketless, he took four-wicket hauls in the other two – against Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Coach Tyagi, who guided him in his formative years, said that he was always a batsman but never got responsibility to bat at higher level.
“He was batsman right from the start, but never got the responsibility.
We worked on his batting as much as his bowling.His father always used to emphasise on batting due to its usefulness in IPL.When he was playing up the order, he always had the temperament,” said Tyagi to IANS.
The temperament Tyagi talks of was evident on Tuesday.
Out of his 69, only 34 runs came in boundaries while he ran between the wickets in energy-sapping conditions for the rest of his runs.
“I used to get angry to see that his all-round potential is not getting fulfilled.
But I am glad that the world could see the batsman in him.My 15 years of labour is paying off,” said Chahar senior.
The right-arm pace bowler took eight wickets for 10 on his first-class debut as he helped Rajasthan dismiss Hyderabad for 21 back in 2010 and then took 6/7 in a T20 International against Bangladesh.