If someone would’ve told you that Deepak Chahar took six wickets and conceded seven runs in a T20 game, you would tend to believe that most of them came in the powerplay. The pacer troubled the opposition with swing and seam. But it was all apart from that in Nagpur during his spell of six for seven against Bangladesh in the third T20I.
The new ball has been the one that does the talking when Deepak Chahar bowls. About 80% of the overs that he’s bowled in the IPL in 2018 and 2019 have come in the powerplays. That’s how he’s been used for India so far as well.
Even in the lone T20I (out of the three) he played in the Caribbean, he blew away the West Indies top order with swing and movement in the powerplay. He didn’t even bowl a single over outside of the powerplay in that game as he finished the game with three wickets for four runs (from three overs).
But a little over three months later, it’s turned upside down. In the third T20I against Bangladesh in Nagpur, all he bowled in the powerplay was one over. Chahar produced a record-shattering spell of six for seven. It was not due to swing or seam that the Rajasthan pacer got it his wickets. It’s his variations, his skill apart from moving the new ball and outsmarting the batsmen that got him all those wickets.
Bangladesh was chasing 175 on what was a dew-filled outfield where the ball was tough to grip. Chahar surprisingly didn’t open the bowling. Khaleel Ahmed bowled the first over and Washington Sundar started from the other end. But when Chahar did come on to bowl, he gave India their first breakthrough and it was not one wicket, he gave them two in a row.
Nagpur has long side boundaries and the pacer used them to his advantage as he bowled a short one to Liton Das which he pulled straight to deep square-leg before having Soumya Sarkar caught at mid-off. Surprisingly again, despite his brilliant over, Chahar bowled only one over in the powerplay. Rohit Sharma was holding him back for the death. He was the senior bowler.
But when the third-wicket stand between Mohammad Naim and Mohammad Mithun flourished, Rohit didn’t have an option but to bring back his only wicket-taker of the night. Chahar came in and did exactly what his captain wanted him to do. First, he controlled the run flow and then, picked up the wicket of Mithun. That opened the floodgates. Shivam Dube struck thrice from the other end and Chahar came back at the death to finish things off. He first had Shaiful Islam caught at long-on on the last ball of the 18th over. He then had Mustafizur Rahman slashing at a wide one and holing out at sweeper cover before nailing the yorker and rattling Aminul Islam’s stumps to complete a memorable hat-trick. He finished with figures of 6/7 which is the best ever in men’s T20Is.
It was a night where Chahar showed that he is just not a new-ball bowler who has a single skill. It was a night where he showed all his skills and variations. It was a night that the Rajasthan pacer showed that he can bowl at any stage of the innings. Moreover, he’s got better at the death as well. He’s worked on mastering it. He’s not yet there but he’s improving every day. MS Dhoni used him at the death in this IPL as well which may have built his confidence. But here, he was India’s leader of the attack.
Every time Rohit Sharma was looking for a wicket, he looked towards Chahar. In the absence of India’s two premier pacers, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Chahar donned the role of a leader, India’s premier fast bowler for the night.
It’s been some story and journey for this pacer from Rajasthan. From getting rejected by Greg Chappell in 2008 to taking 8/10 on first-class (Ranji) debut to a string of injuries to making a name in the IPL to this record-shattering spell for India.
Chahar has come a long way. He has almost cemented his spot for the time being in this T20 side. This spell of 6/7 should ensure the long run and Bhuvneshwar Kumar may have to work his way back into the team as Chahar’s performances may not allow him a direct shoo-in again.
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