An exceptional fast bowler- Chetan Sakariya

Chetan Sakariya made his List A debut in 2017-18 with the Vijay Hazare Trophy along with making his first-class debut for Saurashtra in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy where he took a five-wicket haul in the first innings. He is a left-hand bowler who looks up to Yuvraj Singh on-field. Chetan has given us major goals when it comes to pursuing our passion. Read the entire interview to know more about the cricketer’s life and his style of playing.

Interview

Questions and answers

Chetan, you made your AList debut in 2018. Your team even made it to the finals. Could you enlighten your experiences playing with the team for Vijay Hazare Trophy?

When I was selected for Vijay Hazare, we had many well-known names like Ravindra Jadeja, Chiteshwar Pujara, Robin Utapa, Jaydev Unadkat, Sheldon Jackson. So it was all very new to me. Sharing the dressing room and practice-nets with them was quite like a “dream-come-true,” a very big deal.

It was an enjoyable experience for me, especially if I tell you about the Vijay Hazare match, which was a quarter-final against Baroda, it was my debut. I remember, nobody put any kind of extra pressure on me like “do this or do that.” Instead, Cheteshwar Bhai (Cheteshwar Pujara) came to me and said, “look, I know the situation you’re in- you must be under a lot of pressure. But don’t think about it too much. Think of it as a regular game, and don’t pressurize yourself. Don’t even think about the results already. Whatever happens, will be looked into. Just make sure to give your 100% and be happy with the bowling you did today.”

Ravinder Bhai (Ravinder Singh) wasn’t playing that match, so he came over from the boundary and told me that “Look, you put good effort into it, and you played well that’s why you’re here. Now only think about how you will come back and defeat the other team, nothing else.” That’s how he fired me up. So that was the most unforgettable moment in my career.

You once credited the Australian legend, Glenn McGrath for your success. How has he had that influence on you?

For the past three years, I’ve been training under Glenn sir, in Chennai at the MRA press foundation. In 2017, when I came back from the U19 tournament of 17-18, I didn’t know how but he liked my action play on the field. I was a very thin boy then, no build-up, nothing. But he liked my action a lot- which he said was rhythmic and smooth. Ever since he’s been taking more interest in my skills and he also liked my work ethics a lot- he praises it. That’s it, that’s how I’ve been improving under his guidance. He’s a legendary bowler on his terms. He taught me how to be better at bowling,  handle the situation with the ball, control your mind, and trick the opponent.

Can you talk to us about team spirit, especially in a sport like cricket?

Look, cricket is a game that relies on team-spirit. If you’ll walk into the field thinking you’re going to be the only one winning, then it’s doom. If you really want to win, all the eleven players in the team have to put the same effort together. For that, everyone in the team has to be together, fight together, no matter what. Even if the game doesn’t go as planned, it is the team that keeps together. In that sense, it is a team-spirited game. And if you want to win the match, one can’t just be a good batsman or fielder or bowler. A game needs all of it. For that, one has to contribute all towards the team.

Chetan, you have a very important tournament to play. Take us through your routine on that day before the big game.

Whenever there’s a huge game or tournament to play, our physical training begins two days before already- net practising, rhythm, etc. but the most difficult thing is the internal pressure that comes from within. For that, I just try to get myself comfortable. I do that quite a lot, get into a comfort zone, play some games, and once I reach the hotel, I don’t think a lot about the match. It’s hard to keep straight, but I keep it simple as much as I can. Try and speak to family and friends. So that’s the mental prep. Just relax my mind—nothing more, nothing less. But, the next day, I wake up a half-an-hour before our reporting time and spend 5 minutes thinking about my strategies.

What is your favorite role on the field- to bat, field or bowl? Do you have a preference?

In today’s times, one cannot be selected just based on being good at only one thing, be it batting, bowling, or fielding. It is more of an all-rounder selection. But still, I prefer bowling, especially during a situation when we feel stuck during a game or pressurized. I love bowling since it allows me to push myself and get the team through it.

It has been a journey for you, from Gujarat to playing nationwide cricket, representing a vast team. You’ve played more than a handful of tournaments. What has the ride been like for you?

The last two years of my life will go down like a roller-coaster ride for me- there were ups and downs, injuries, the wickets I scored. I learned a lot, met new and better people, and bonded. My lifestyle changed; I learned to talk. Whether on the field or off the field, I could learn and live through it.

In 2018, you played for the Ranji Trophy. That is a huge title in this game. What was your reaction when you got to know that you’ll be playing with Saurashtra again for the title?

When I got the call for the Ranji Trophy from our manager, I was shocked because I didn’t expect it at all. I was definitely ready, I had worked on my fitness and polished my bowling skills. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play that year. But the year I played, I got a very good opportunity to play the Ranji Trophy. Though, I wasn’t able to play at the level a Ranji Trophy player is supposed to play at. Still, luck was on my side. My coach and captain kept and showed faith in my skills and abilities, and they called me for the next match. So yes, it was shocking.

 

Do you have a favorite sport aside from cricket?

I love adventure sports. I haven’t done a lot except Paragliding and River Rafting. But I wish to do Bungee Jumping, Skydiving, Surfing, etc. I can’t do them now, but I will do them one day.

 

Do you have a cricketer who still inspires you till this day, or whose game you admire and look up to?

I feel very inspired when I watch Yuvraj Singh on the ground performing- whether it’s in good form or destructive form. As a player, I really admire him. And I believe everyone should admire him as such because whenever India has won the world cup, he’s always had a huge role to play in it. Even after he got cancer, he played that match and made us win, so he’s a true inspiration. Even as a batsman, he’s very destructive with his skills; as a fielder, he’s as fast as thunder. During hard times, he even steps in for “handy-bowling.” So he’s a complete package, and even today, he motivates me.

Do you remember the first time you wanted to be a cricketer? Was it a realization or was it a sudden interest?

Yes, I remember it very well. Yuvraj Singh had hit six sixes in six balls at the 2007 World Cup. When I saw that, I was awestruck. I thought that he was a magician because nobody can ever do that. That was the moment that gave me goosebumps. That’s when I realized that I wanted to play on that level too and help my team win a match just like that and become the “Hero” of my country. So it was a sudden-interest. I never wanted to be a cricketer as a child. But that moment inspired me, and I took the firm decision of becoming a cricketer then and there.

You’re very well known for your “left-arm fast-medium” on the pitch. Could you maybe reveal to us- how does one develop a particular skill in any sport?

If you see, “Left-Arm-Medium Fast” is very rare. Because being a lefty is on its own a special thing. But I didn’t develop it. As a child, what I did was look at Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan. I liked Junaid Khan when he came to India in 2010, and his bowling skills were very admirable against India when he took wickets of Virat Kohli and others. So I just watched it and developed it automatically- there was no skill or exercise included. It was natural. But yeah, I had definitely improved my fitness, compared to when I first started playing professionally. And all the new players that come automatically develop their skills here in training.

Lastly, who inspires you: both in general and in the game?

Off the field- I find Bruce Lee very inspiring because of the way he had pushed his mind to such an extreme level, very few can do that. So I read a lot, watch a lot about him, his quotes and try to live as disciplined as him. I still have a long way to go even to come close, but yeah- off the field; he’s the one. On The Field it is- Yuvraj Singh- his fire fighting spirit, I don’t believe any other player has contributed towards cricket as much.

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