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Sunday,16-May-2021

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Chetan Sakariya: From struggling to meet cricket expenses to IPL stardom

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Rajasthan Royals pace bowler Chetan Sakariya has overcome many hurdles in his life like working at his uncle’s stationery shop while in school in lieu of money to cover his cricket expenses as his father couldn’t afford equipment and coaching fees. Earlier this year, he and his family overcame the death of his younger brother, who had committed suicide. These have been harsh enough tests to endure early in life, especially for someone whos just turned 23.

So it wasn’t surprising to see him maintain composure and calmness while bowling a series of slower balls in the last over on Monday night against Punjab Kings bowling innings and deceiving the batsmen while conceding five runs and picking two wickets.

RR director of cricket operations Kumar Sangakkar was all praise for the left-arm youngster from Saurashtra.

“I think he (Chetan Sakariya) was just brilliant. His skill was on display. It was really wonderful to watch a bowler in such a high-scoring match always smiling, always in the game. He took an amazing catch at short fine leg. He managed to come back well with the new ball. He bowled at the death, when everyone was taking punishment,” Sangakkara said while speaking to the media after the match on Monday.

“It speaks a lot about his skill, his attitude. It is great to have him in the side. He is a simple guy. He has had his ups and downs in life. He is here to enjoy his cricket. Our job is to support that. It was really good to see the control that he had, the change-ups. He picked the moments to bowl them,” added Sangakkara.

Sakariya was picked for Rs 1.2 crore in the IPL mini-auction on February 18 this year.

Coming from a village, 10 kilometres from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, life wasn’t easy for him.

His maternal uncle took care of his expenses for education, cricket equipment, and training at the Sir Bhavsinhji Cricket Academy, a go-to place for budding cricketers in and around Bhavnagar, and from where the likes of Saurashtra players Sheldon Jackson, Harvik Desai, and Sandip Maniar have emerged.

In return, Sakariya had to help him in his business.

Sakariya’s dad, who owned and drove a tempo, took care of the family with his meagre income.

“When I was in school, I had to balance studies and cricket. But after completing my 12th I focussed on cricket. I would train in the evening and in the first half, I would work for my uncle,” Sakariya had told IANS just after getting picked at the auction.

Sakariya was initially encouraged by his school coach when he was in 10th and immediately enrolled into the Bhavsinhji Academy. From there, he got a chance to play under-16 for Saurashtra.

He was then picked for MRF Pace Foundation and spent five months there on his action and fitness.

“I played for the Saurashtra under-19 and also the under-23 teams. Soon, I was called up for the senior team’s probables and was put in the loop. The coaches said that with experience I would improve,” he had told IANS.

Having bowled at the senior Saurashtra team nets, he made his Ranji Trophy debut in November 2018 against Gujarat and he picked a five-wicket haul in first innings as Saurashtra won points on first innings. He picked 29 wickets in eight matches in his debut Ranji season.

But it was his bowling in T20 format that was to catch everyone’s eye.

During the 2019-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he impressed the Royal Challengers Bangalore scouts.

“I was approached by the RCB scouts when I was playing a T20 match against Jharkhand. They called me for trials in January, just before Covid-19 broke out. Coach Mike Hesson was impressed. They gave me match scenarios at the nets and I impressed them. Unfortunately, a lockdown happened. But they kept in touch and signed a contract with me,” Sakariya had told IANS.

Sakariya soon flew to the UAE for IPL 2020 as a net bowler for RCB and that is where his brush with someone from the big league came.

South Africa pace bowler Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav were at the nets.

“Steyn taught me a lot of things related to planning out batsmen. He taught me how to come round the wicket to a left-handed batsman and bowl wide outside off-stump. It is a very difficult job for a left-armer. I got Moeen Ali out in an intra-RCB practice game,” added Sakariya.

“Umesh bhai also taught me how to plan. My skills in variation were developed at the RCB nets during IPL 2020.”

The brush with the Steyn & Co at the RCB nets bore fruit at the Rajasthan Royals trials.

“I bowled extraordinarily well at the Rajasthan Royals trials just recently. One of the coaches came up to me and praised me for having different types of deliveries. I think I have six different variations — back-of-the-hand, bouncer, yorker, cutter, and slow bouncer etc, but I bowl two-three perfectly. That performance and in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is what I think got me a big contract,” said Sakariya.

He bagged 12 wickets in five matches that put him sixth in the wicket-takers’ list of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

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National

Rishabh Pant gets first jab of Covid-19 vaccine

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Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant said that he has got his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday. Pant urged people to get the vaccine whenever they are eligible.

“Got my first jab today. When you are eligible, please step up and get the vaccine. The sooner we do it, the sooner we can beat this Virus,” Pant tweeted with a photo of him getting the vaccine.

Earlier Indian captain Virat Kohli and fast bowlers Deepak Chahar and Siddharth Kaul also said that they had got their first jabs.

Pant was captain of Delhi Capitals for the 2021 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) following an impressive season with the Indian team in which he played integral roles in their Test series wins away from home against Australia and at home against England.

He was announced as DC’s captain prior to the season after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out due to injury.

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National

Sometimes miss Dhoni’s guidance: Kuldeep Yadav

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Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has admitted that he misses the guidance he used to get from MS Dhoni when the latter kept wickets. Kuldeep has seen his international appearances nosedive since the end of 2019, which was also the year that Dhoni played his last match for India.

“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming. We miss his experience. Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” Yadav told The Indian Express.

Yadav has played seven ODIs in 2020 and 2021, as compared to 23 in 2019 alone. Dhoni played his last game for India in their semi-final defeat to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup on July 10 before eventually retiring from international cricket on August 15, 2020.

“When Mahibhai was there, I and (Yuzvendra) Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi bhai left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahibhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against,” said Yadav.

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India should play both Jadeja and Ashwin in WTC final: Pragyan Ojha

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Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin should both be playing in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand for their prowess with the bat as much as their ability to take wickets, said Pragyan Ojha.

Ojha said that with India having no fast-bowling all-rounder in the squad, Jadeja in particular gives them an extra option in the batting order.

“They should play, both of them. Because both can bat, both have the experience of bowling on any track. The biggest plus point is Jadeja can bat up the order. The way he is performing. Mind you if you look at his domestic record, he’s got three triple hundreds.

I think he can bat long and Ashwin has got international hundreds also. I feel if there’s a little chance where you can play both the spinners, you should play. They have enough experience to win you games on any wicket,” Ojha told Sports Today.

“Overall, it’s a fantastic team. Even I was following Hanuma Vihari. Very thoughtful of him to go and play some county cricket. You know you get acclimatised to the conditions. That’s very important,” he added.

Jadeja will be making his comeback to the Test team after being sidelined in the second Test against Australia due to a finger injury. The injury forced him to miss the four-Test series at home against England but he hit the ground running for Chennai Super Kings in the 2021 Indian Premier League.

Ashwin, on the other hand, has experienced a resurgence with the bat in recent matches, helping India to a draw in the third Test against Australia by fending off 128 balls and finishing unbeaten on 39. He then scored 106 against England in the second Test in Chennai in February.

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