When Rahul made his Tauji proud

When Rahul made his Tauji proud

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Rahul Chahar (centre) says the stint with Mumbai Indians in this year's IPL boosted his confidence. AFP

Rahul Chahar is a firm believer in domestic cricket being the learning ground for emerging players. And it was last year at the Ranji Trophy -- India’s premier domestic tournament – where Rahul planted the seeds of fine progress of his career.

In 10 games, Rahul picked up 41 wickets for Rajasthan at an average of 24.90. The in-form leg-spinner was a vital cog in champions Mumbai Indians’ wheel at the previous edition of the Indian Premier League. Soon, Rahul received the biggest reward for his purple patch when he made his international debut in the third T20I against the West Indies at Providence stadium, Guyana, last month.

“Obviously, playing for India was a dream come true moment for me. I worked hard for this since my childhood. But there is a lot more to achieve and this is just the beginning,” said Rahul, who is currently here playing for India Green squad in the Duleep Trophy.

The debut only got sweeter when he had his cousin Deepak Chahar, the right-arm pacer, by his side. It was a proud day for Lokendrasingh Chahar, Deepak’s father, who coached the gifted Chahar siblings. 

“It was a special feeling that my elder brother was playing for India and I was making my debut alongside him. And finally I had repaid the faith and hard work of my tauji, my coach (Deepak’s father). He dreamt of watching us play for India on TV and it finally happened,” he said.  

For a player who made his first-class debut in the 2016-17 season and had nothing to show for it, Rahul has shown appreciable improvement in two seasons. In their terrific show of four IPL titles, Mumbai Indians have made heroes out of exceptional talents. The Pandya brothers -- Hardik and Krunal -- Jasprit Bumrah and to some extent, Mayank Markande, have thrived on the confidence shown by Mumbai Indians. This time, it was the turn of Rahul.

A bowler with the ability to deceive the batsmen with flight, Rahul stood out for his discipline. Courtesy his brilliant accuracy, even the big names of the league found it hard to score of his bowling. At an enviable economy of 6.55, Chahar picked up 13 wickets from as many games. On the night of the final, against the mighty Chennai Super Kings, Rahul was a player of shrewd brain inside a calm head. His figures of 4-0-14-1 proved crucial in Mumbai’s successful defence of 149.

“All teams give opportunities. But the specialty with Mumbai Indians is that they trust you a lot. In T20Is, you need to get your basics right but you also need to be smart. That’s what I did this time in the IPL,” the 20-year-old said.

Leg spin great Imran Tahir of South Africa is one of Rahul’s best guides. “We played for Rising Pune Supergiants. I talk to him when I have an issue with my bowling. For instance, when I went to England for my India U-19 matches, I called him to understand the conditions and challenges witnessed in England. I am in touch with him regularly.”

The wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have firmly established themselves in limited overs format while the likes of leg-spinning all-rounder Shreyas Gopal have been on the fringe. But Rahul is unfazed by the competition. “When you try to do better than your team-mate, you learn a lot. Competition is a good thing.”