CHENNAI: Ever wondered what goes through a bowler's mind in the IPL when he doesn't have a good time? Or what he does to stay focused and fight back when the world starts doubting his abilities?
Varun Chakravarthy of Kolkata Knight Riders has a few answers. In his brief IPL career so far, the spinner has been through ups and downs.
A qualified architect from Tamil Nadu, Varun stands out for his calm demeanour and ability to read batsmen and situations - all these besides the deliveries that keep batsmen guessing. It has not happened automatically. He had to make a conscious effort. Self-analysis was part of the process.
"When I find something wrong with my bowling, I watch videos and study them. I don't panic and rush to a coach. Self-analysis has helped me understand my bowling better. I must say the time I spent at the KKR Academy before the IPL helped me stay in good shape physically and mentally. I had time to work on my game too," Varun told The New Indian Express from the UAE.
The mystery spinner was down with injuries after drawing attention with his assortment of carrom balls and wrong'uns in the domestic circuit during the 2018-19 season. What followed was a tough time.
His first season in the IPL didn't go well either, as he played just one match for Kings XI Punjab with figures of 3-0-35-1.
"I went through a lot in the last few years. Had a poor start to the IPL, nursed injuries. But I never gave up. I had the belief that I would do well and it was only a matter of time. During that phase, family, friends, my fiancée, coaches and trainers supported me. That kept me going," said Varun, adding that the KKR set-up helped him stay calm. "Talking to Dinesh Karthik and Abhishek Nayar (assistant coach) helped. They kept giving me confidence and told me that I have the potential to do well at this level. Their inputs kept me calm."
It paid off in the match against Delhi Capitals, when Varun registered the first five-wicket haul of IPL 2020.
"Pleased with it. Never expected to get five wickets. This is a surreal moment because I didn't get wickets in the last few games. I worked hard for this tournament, practised for long hours. Five wickets in any format is good. But in T20, it is very special. I just followed the process and things fell in place," said the 29-year-old.
On that day, Varun had accounted for Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel, who are all capable of hitting the ball a long way. "I am more satisfied when I realise that I had taken the wickets of some powerful hitters. I just stayed calm, kept it tight with subtle variations. I was confident and my aim was not to leak runs."
In KKR, Varun is in good company. Sunil Narine is a big name and Varun is trying to benefit from his interactions with him. "He (Sunil) is an accomplished player. There is no chance of competition. I go to him for inputs and guidance. This performance has given me confidence and I hope to do well for my team. We have an excellent team and we should do well."