New Delhi: Leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy on Monday broke into the India T20 team for the tour of Australia on the back of impressive performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 where he conceded runs at just 7.05 runs an over and picked 12 wickets, including a five-wicket haul, in 11 matches.
The 29-year-old Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowler, who first hit the headlines after he was picked by Kings XI Punjab ahead of last season for Rs.8.4 crore, but he got just one game. He came into his own this season in KKR colours.
Chakravarthy, who was born in Bidar, Karnataka, but comes from Thanjavur, took five for 20 on Saturday against Delhi Capitals although he has been economical throughout the season.
“It is not just the fifer [Chakravarthy took against Delhi Capitals]; it is the way he has bowled in the entire tournament, so far. He hasn’t given away too many runs, he has picked wickets at crucial times in the middle overs and he hasn’t allowed the batsmen to settle. Therefore, it is clearly a reward for some fine performances in IPL T20 tournament. It just shows that dreams do come true,” said former India captain Sunil Gavaskar during TV commentary during the KKR-KXIP game on Monday.
Gavaskar was talking about Chakravarthy’s tough grind when he had given up cricket at one point in time and turned to architecture.
Former India spinner Murali Kartik, who was commentating on TV, brought out the other salient feature of Chakravarthy’s bowling.
“When you compare him with other spinners, say Ravi Bishnoi, Chakravarthy looks so calm and composed even under pressure,” the former left-arm spinner said.
Bishnoi too has impressed, picking 12 wickets in 12 matches and conceding runs at just 7.20.
Before the fifer against Delhi Capitals, Chakravarthy had helped turn the game against Chennai Super Kings around for KKR on October 7 by removing MS Dhoni with a delivery that was shaping up to be a leg-break but went straight on as the India legend went down to slog-sweep him to the boundary.
CSK were in the game at that stage needing 39 off 22 balls before Dhoni fell. Chakravarthy, a leg-spinner, then bowled three dot balls to increase the required run rate before CSK succumbed to pressure and fell short of the target by 10 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
This was not the first time, Charavarthy had got Dhoni out. He also went to the CSK practice sessions and bowled Dhoni a few years ago. He got the better of the former India captain three-four times out of 10 deliveries, his former captain at the Tamil Nadu Premier League franchise Madurai Panthers Rohit Damodaran told IANS.
No wonder CSK were desperate for Chakravarthy and fought till the end for the spinner until Kings XI Punjab outbid CSK and others ahead of 2019 IPL, picking him for Rs 8.4 crore.
Damodaran and his team’s coaches were the first to spot him and take him into their franchise for the bare, minimum amount. “In terms of economy and number of dot balls, Varun was the No. 1. He brought in a lot of dimension to my team and helped us win the title,” Damodaran said. “He had three-four variations — googly, a regular carrom ball, a carrom ball that skids on to the pads, and a normal off-spin too.”
Tamil Nadu’s Chakravarthy, who has got a second wind this IPL season after missing the last season — his first — due to an injury, has consistently picked wickets that shows his class.
Against SunRisers Hyderabad, he deceived David Warner with a delivery that went straight on despite the delivery shaping up like a leg-break. Then, against Rajasthan Royals, he got rid of Rahul Tewatia with a googly that turned sharply from the leg and pegged back the middle-stump. Against Delhi Capitals, he bowled a top-spinner with a leg-cutter grip.
On Monday, Chakravarthy got rid of newly appointed India vice-captain and KXIP skipper KL Rahul leg-before with a googly that skidded on to the batsman’s pad.
While most leg-spinners have variety, deception and bounce make Chakravarthy a bit different from others on the Indian circuit.