Deepak Chahar shows willingness to adapt as he stakes his claim for India T20 role

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Deepak Chahar is making his case for India.

India’s preparations for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia have already started in earnest with the Men in Blue dispatching South Africa with ease in the first of the three scheduled T20s between the two sides on Wednesday.

While an unbeaten 72 from skipper Virat Kohli’s led India’s charge with the bat against the Proteas, it was Deepak Chahar who was the chief architect of the win with ball in hand at Dharamsala.

Playing in only his second T20I for India, the 27-year-old seamer bagged the crucial wickets of Reeza Hendricks and the well-set Temba Bavuma to finish with excellent figures of 2-22 from his four overs.

Chahar’s fine display against South Africa adds to his excellent showing against the West Indies at Providence last month where he delivered a man-of-the-match display in the final T20. The seamer picked up three wickets in as many overs in the clash while conceding a miserly four runs to set up a comprehensive seven-wicket win for India.

With five wickets in his last two appearances, Chahar is well on his way to confirming his ticket to Australia for the T20 World Cup and he will be hoping to build further on his impressive form in the coming months.

Chahar has been around the Indian domestic circuit for some time now after announcing himself as an 18-year-old prodigy for Rajasthan in 2010. Then, the seamer returned with sensational figures of 8-10 on his Ranji Trophy debut to help Rajasthan bowl out Hyderabad for just 21 runs.

With his natural ability to seam the ball both ways, Chahar quickly established himself as a menacing red-ball bowler with his maiden Ranji season for Rajasthan resulting in a total of 30 wickets.

However, a spate of injuries took its toll on Chahar in the years to follow and the result is that he has been able to play just 45 first-class matches in a nine-year career so far. With injuries and fitness issues hampering the bowler from bowling long spells, the Rajasthan man has done well to reinvent himself as a white-ball specialist with some promising displays in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings before earning his maiden India call up.

The seamer has really flourished in Chennai under the leadership of MS Dhoni with 32 wickets to show for in his last two IPL campaigns. With his ability to generate prodigious movement on almost any surface, Chahar has been CSK’s chief weapon in the pace department in a bowling unit dominated by spinners.

According to the CricViz Analyst, Chahar has taken 26 wickets in the powerplay alone in the last three IPL editions which is the highest by any bowler in the competition.

Such has been his potency with the new ball that skipper Dhoni has usually opted to bowl out his four overs on the trot. Question marks have still hovered over Chahar’s ability to bowl with the older ball in the death overs though.

Even in his excellent display against Windies last month, Chahar bowled his three overs on the bounce in the powerplay with Kohli electing not to bowl him out in the death overs.

As such, Chahar’s latest showing against South Africa is of great significance to both him and India. The seamer did bowl three of his overs in the powerplay but also showed he can do a job with the older ball as well by bowling a superb 18th over where he conceded just three runs and picked up the wicket of Bavuma with a knuckle-ball.

“Earlier I used to bowl out with the new ball, and people used to ask me why I don’t bowl at the death,” Chahar told broadcaster Star Sports after India’s win on Wednesday.

“I used to say death is easier to bowl. My brain had become so used to bowling with two fielders outside the circle (inside the powerplay) that five seemed a luxury. If you have variations, you can use them at the death.”

Chahar has the potential to develop into a formidable force in the T20I format if he can keep improving his death-bowling skills and India will hope he continue to do so in the run-up to the T20 World Cup.

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