New Delhi: “He must have bowled at least one lakh deliveries in the nets before this performance came along,” the elation was palpable in Lokendrasingh Chahar’s voice.
It was a night that Lokendrasingh, a retired Indian Air Force employee, had been waiting. His son Deepak Chahar finally produced a ‘magical performance’, the seeds of which were sown on a turf wicket in Agra in the backdrop of the iconic Taj Mahal. The moments that he and his son would forever cherish came against Bangladesh in a T20 International in Nagpur, where the bowler’s mindboggling figures read 3.2-0-7-6.
“Now I feel that the dream that we both had harboured is slowly getting realised,” said Lokendrasingh while speaking to this agency from his Agra residence.
Deepak Chahar gained instant stardom Sunday evening taking six wickets for just seven runs in the T20I against Bangladesh. This is the best bowling figure in the history of the T20 format. #DeepakChahar #IndiaVsBangladesh #IndiaCricketTeam #Cricket #T20Format pic.twitter.com/pnfG3dGWMp
— Orissa POST Live (@OrissaPOSTLive) November 11, 2019
Deepak Chahar, who is certainly not a new name in Indian cricket, first came into prominence as an 18-year-old, whose prodigious swing bowling had an experienced Hyderabad team in tatters. He took 8/10 in his Ranji Trophy debut with Hyderabad being all-out for 21. That eight-wicket haul is one of the most watched domestic cricket videos on the YouTube channel.
Deepak made a grand entry into domestic circuit with 40-plus wickets for the Ranji Trophy-winning Rajasthan side but injuries hampered his progress in the next few years.
“I would say he sustained injuries at important phases of his career. The timing of the injury also becomes very important,” said Lokendrasingh.
A natural swing bowler, the street-smart Deepak understood that white-ball cricket could be his calling in the jam-packed Indian line-up and things changed when Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw him at Rising Super Giants (Pune) few years back.
There was a spark and shrewd tactician Dhoni used him brilliantly for Chennai Super Kings during the last two seasons before he came into national reckoning.
After 10 wickets in the 2018 season, Chahar was in his elements this year too, fetching 22 wickets and was in the stand-by in India’s World Cup squad in England.
Former India cricketer and analyst Deep Dasgupta, who has watched a lot of Deepak in domestic cricket, feels change happened during the 2019 IPL.
“Deepak always knew how to swing with the red ball. But in 2018, with no Dwayne Bravo, MS (Dhoni) entrusted him with extra responsibility on power play overs as well as at the death. That was the turning point for Deepak,” Dasgupta said.
“He learnt to bowl in not-so swing friendly conditions. He learnt to bowl the wide yorkers, the wide slowers,” the former Test keeper said.
Originally hailing from Agra, the Chahar family was initially settled in Ganganagar, Rajasthan when Lokendrasingh was employed with the IAF.
“When I quit my job in the Indian Air Force, I knew what I was doing. I never felt that it was a sacrifice. I knew that my son had potential when I saw him play as a 12-year-old. He had a few natural qualities,” the senior Chahar said.
“I wanted to become a cricketer but my father didn’t allow me. So when it came to my son, I wanted him to realise his dream which was my dream too. I had no formal coaching degree but I learnt just to guide Deepak,” said Lokendrasingh, who used his savings to build two pitches – a turf and a concrete in his native Agra where his son could train.
Few years down the line, his first cousin Rahul, a leg-spinner in the T20 squad also joined.
“He (Deepak) couldn’t attend regular school after eighth standard due to intense nature of the training. Tab din ke 24 ghante bhi kam laagte the (Even 24 hours didn’t seem enough), training, gym, rest and recovery. He did complete his graduation though,” Lokendrasingh said.
So how did Lokendrasingh manage the coaching part given that he didn’t have any formal degree?
“My all time favourite is Malcolm Marshall and I also admire Dale Steyn. I would watch their videos, their wrist position while bowling outswing, listen to commentators and then work with Deepak on what I could gather,” stated Lokendrasingh.