IPL 2023: Varun Chakravarthy – the mystery is back again

A late bloomer in cricket, Chakravarthy had always enjoyed the confidence of KKR team management since his first season with them in 2020

Varun Chakravarthy (Source: KKR)
Varun Chakravarthy (Source: KKR)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Varun Chakravarthy, the mystery spinner of Kolkata Knight Riders, often ends up in performing in extremes. A few days after he was taken to the cleaners by the Chennai Super Kings batters, he was back in his elements – finishing with three for 27 to emerge as the Player of the Match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.  

A morale-boosting win against RCB at the latter’s fortress of Chinnaswamy Stadium helped the Knights end a sequence of four demoralising losses, but it’s still too early to say if it’s going to keep their play-off hopes alive. They are now in seventh position in points table and take on the consistent Gujarat Titans at the Eden Gardens on Saturday – a match which promises to be a battle royale between spinners.

Chakravarthy, now in third position in the race for the Purple Cap with 13 wickets (after Mohammed Siraz and Rashid Khan with 14 each), may be playing the role of a defacto leader of their spin bowling unit in the remaining games. In the two matches against RCB alone this season, the Tamil Nadu spinner had snared seven wickets – his haul of four for 15 at the Eden earlier being one of the most standout bowling performances this seaon.

Asked how did he prepare to bounce back this season after a lacklustre 2022, Chakravarthy revealed that he focused more on accuracy and imparting an increased revolution on the ball rather than trying any new delivery. ‘’The spin bowling coach in Chennai, A. Pratheepan, helped me a lot in these areas while the KKR coach Avishek Nayar helped a lot with the technical aspects,’’ remarked the 31-year-old Chakravarthy, who is yet to see his new-born baby as he had been on the road for IPL.

A late bloomer in cricket who gave up a qualified architect’s vocation, Chakravarthy had always enjoyed the confidence of KKR team management since his first season with them in 2020. He enjoyed an extraordinary run in the UAE with 17 wickets, following it up with 18 scalps next year – a performance which opened the doors  for a call-up to the national T20 team.

The soft spoken Chakravarthy was rather effusive in his praise for his two spin mates in the KKR side – Sunil Narine and young Suyash Sharma. ‘’Sunil is the seniormost among us and is a legend of the game. He guides us a lot while Suyash is a guy for the future. He is an exciting talent and hopefully, he can break into the Indian team soon,’’ Chakravarthy said.

Referring to Wednesday’s win against Virat Kohli & Co, Chakravarthy revealed that the team management had separate meetings about containing the RCB batsmen. ‘’It’s not easy for spinners to bowl at Chinnaswamy, so we had our own plans which worked. Though I had done well against them in the home game, I treated it as a fresh game and also did our homework by watching videos on how their top batters play their strokes and prepared accordingly,’’ he added.

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