Deepak Chahar, who is deemed as one of the best swing bowlers in the world, has asserted that despite holding the tag of being a ‘powerplay specialist’, he feels that he is equally effective bowling at the back end. Chahar feels that he hasn’t had enough chances to showcase his death-bowling skills.
Stereotypes can work against cricketers and, according to his own admission, Deepak Chahar is being held back by the tag of being a powerplay specialist. A bowler who can swing the ball both ways at pace, Chahar is widely renowned as one of the best new-ball bowlers in the IPL, and his statistics reflect the same. Since the start of the 2018 season, Chahar (39 wickets) has taken 15 more wickets than any other bowler in the powerplay and has bowled an astonishing 419 dots, 100 more than any of his competitors in the said time frame.
However, despite being head and shoulders above any other bowler with the new ball, Chahar feels that the reputation of being a ‘powerplay specialist’ is making people demean his all-round ability. In an interview to Cricket.com, the 28-year-old pacer insisted that he is more than comfortable bowling towards the back end, and asserted that him bowling 3 overs up-front is purely down to the fact that he is a ‘captain’s man’.
“People say I am a good new-ball bowler because I bowl three overs in the powerplay. But the ball swings for hardly an over or two. Swing completely disappears in the third. If I can do that with two fielders outside, of course, I can do that at the death,” Chahar told Cricket.com.
“I am honestly more comfortable bowling at death with five fielders outside. It is easier to bowl to that field-set. Whenever I have bowled in the death, I have never conceded more than 10 runs in an over. But Mahi Bhai, more often than not, asks me to bowl with the new ball because if I can take 2-3 wickets upfront, it keeps the side in good stead. I have always been a captain’s bowler, thus I have never qualms doing that over and over again.”
Across the last three IPL seasons, 117 balls is all Chahar has bowled at the death and the right-armer insisted that he simply hasn’t had enough opportunities to showcase his skills at the back end.
“This IPL, I was doing only death bowling practise in the nets. I used to bowl 12 deliveries with the new ball and then hone my death ability. Not saying I am still great, I need to work on wide outside the off-stump yorker a bit more but the fact is I haven’t had that much opportunity with the older ball to prove myself.”
At just the age of 18, Chahar enjoyed a sensational debut in first-class cricket, picking 8/10 against Hyderabad, but injuries coupled with the loss of form and rhythm saw the Rajasthan man lose track in no time. Injuries, in particular, didn’t help his cause, and it was only three years ago that the right-armer reinvented himself as a white-ball specialist to make his way to the top of the sport. Chahar revealed that enduring tough roadblocks early on in his career taught him to deal with adversities and helped him mature as a cricketer quickly.
“In Indian domestic cricket, you don’t often get wickets favouring fast bowling. Also playing lots of domestic cricket over the years, I’ve understood that you don’t need to bowl with full effort in a multi-day game. Striking a balance is the key that I learnt from experience. By facing those situations very early in my career, I’ve learnt how to toughen myself up for bigger challenges in my cricketing journey.
“I learnt very early in my life that sports are about coming back from tough situations and putting the past behind. Failures are bound to happen and you can’t avoid injuries either. My approach to the sport is always about stretching my belief system and ensuring I am going strong, no matter what happens.”
Chahar and swing bowling go hand-in-hand, but the 28-year-old is keen to keep up his pace and bowl in the 140-range. The Rajasthan seamer suffered a back stress fracture two years ago, that hindered his progress, and the right-armer revealed that he worked ‘doubly hard’ post the injury to get back to old fitness levels.
“Swing is an art which I have. Really worked hard on that since childhood which will never go away. However, I have to always keep working hard on my pace so that I can consistently bowl around 140s at the top level. When I come back from injury, bringing that pace back has always been a daunting proposition, so I had to work doubly hard after the stress fracture in late 2019. Lockdown helped and I got some extra time to focus on that aspect. But never ever I felt it was the end of the road for me. I know how to come back from such situations.”