‘Rahul Chahar’, replied former India cricketer turned commentator Laxman Sivaramkrishnan, when asked about the spinner who has impressed him the most in this year’s IPL.
Rightly so, for the way this leg spinner has been bowling. There are spinners who restrict the flow of runs and there are those who take wickets. Chahar does both, regularly.
A total of 13 wickets in IPL 2019 followed by 15 in 2020 and now in this year’s IPL, the 21-year-old can even better the past two performances, for he has taken 8 wickets already in the first four games for Mumbai Indians.
On Tuesday, against Delhi Capitals, the wet ball due to the heavy dew at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, would have made Chahar bowl a few loose deliveries but he still asked questions with the turn and bounce. Shikhar Dhawan did dominate him a bit but Chahar had the last laugh.
It is said that for a wrist spinner to gain his captain’s trust is a tough job. In Chahar’s case, it is the opposite.
“Rohit Bhai gives me a lot of confidence and is always there at mid-off to guide me. Sometimes in pressure, he believes in me more than I myself do. Having a captain like him helps a lot,” Chahar had said after Mumbai Indians’ win against Kolkata Knight Riders.
His captain makes him bowl in tough situations, and the leg spinner seldom disappoints. Though Chahar went wicketless in the opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the next two games, he stood up. Defending 152 against Kolkata Knight Riders, he scalped four wickets and snatched away the match from the opposition who fell short by 10 runs. In the very next match, three Sunrisers batsmen fell to his bowling, they too fell short by 13 runs.
Pakistani leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed had said in a video posted by Pakistan Cricket Board, “Leg Spinner Ka Dil Bada Hona Chahiye” (Leg spinners should have a big heart). Chahar certainly has it. He doesn’t hesitate to toss the ball up and pitch it full.
Although he has a few variations in his repertoire, he prefers to stick to his stock delivery — leg spin. What sets him apart is his ability to pitch his stock delivery and the other ones at the same spot — it tells you about the control he possesses — and that is where the batters err, it is where things happen, it is where he takes risks and it is where he comes back.
The 5’9″ bowler has a breezy action. He jogs front-on until he reaches the wickets. He then goes a bit side-on, just enough to make the purists happy. His big stride plants left foot on the popping crease, while the right rests on the bowling crease.
What happens next?
He tucks his non-bowling arm, begins to rotate his bowling arm as early as possible. While his left spike begins to make a semi circle on the pitch the right leg comes up till hips, for pivot. Both arms then come back before he squats a little expecting a catch. All this while, his head remains still, on the spot. You know what happens at the other end.
Chahar is among the handful of bowlers who make us feel like there is always a wicket coming every time they deliver the ball. He looks all set for a big season considering how he has bowled so far.