Kolkata: They might be playing for different teams, but Deepak and Rahul Chahar have one aim in common, use the platform in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to impress the national selectors and represent the country on the international stage.
Cousins Deepak and Rahul have been impressive so far in the ongoing tournament, the former spearheading Chennai Super Kings’ pace bowling attack and the latter spinning a web around batsmen with his leg breaks for Mumbai Indians.
Chahar is the fourth highest wicket-taker in the competition with 15 scalps to his name from 12 matches. Nineteen-year old Rahul, meanwhile, has played eight games for Mumbai Indians, taking nine wickets at an economy rate of 6.43.
Both Chahar brothers play for Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy and also share the dressing room at the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant(s).
Coming a long way since playing gully cricket together in Agra, the pair are now vitals cogs in their respective teams’ wheels.
Deepak has played for India in one ODI and a T20I, but is yet to cement his place. Teenager Rahul is yet to get a break but with wrist spinners now ruling the roost, his performances won’t go unnoticed if he keeps delivering with the ball.
Their fathers are brothers and their mothers are sisters. Deepak’s father, Lokendra Singh, used to work in the Indian Air Force and it was during his Jaipur posting that Deepak started playing professional cricket.
Rahul also aspired to become a pacer like his elder cousin, but it was Deepak’s father who identified Rahul’s ability to turn the ball sharply in the nets and encouraged him to become a legs-spinner.
Both the brothers burst onto the scene at an early age, Deepak bagging 8 for 10 on Ranji Trophy debut to bundle Hyderabad out for 21 – the lowest total in Indian domestic cricket – at just 18 years of age; and Rahul claimingA three five-wicket hauls in four Vijay Merchant Trophy Under-16 three-day games in 2013-14.
But Deepak’s rise was marred by injuries and sickness which threatened to stymie his progress until recently when he rediscovered himself.
In 2017, Deepak and Rahul were reunited at Rising Pune but while Deepak again struggled with injuries, Rahul was starved of game time. But as is the case in the IPL, unheralded players get to rub shoulders with the best in the business. Rahul spent valuable time with Imran Tahir in the nets.
Rahul was subsequently not picked for India’s 2018 U-19 World Cup campaign but his performances in the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy caught the attention of Mumbai who scooped Rahul up for Rs 1.9 crore.
Meanwhile, Deepak, who was the top wicket-taker in the same tournament, was picked up by Chennai for Rs 80 lakh.
Rahul, though, did not get a game initially but impressed a bit in his first outing against Deepak’s Chennai, conceding 11 runs in two overs without getting a wicket. There was no looking back from there on as he became Rohit Sharma’s go to bowler, much like Deepak is for MS Dhoni at Chennai.
Rahul’s strengths lie in his effective leg-breaks and excellent control over it while Deepak is a superb Powerplay bowler as well as a death overs specialist.
The Indian team at the moment has a very strong bowling arsenal with world-class pacers and spinners in their kitty. But the Chahar brothers, going by their IPL performances, are keen to give head coach Ravi Shastri and the team management a problem of plenty in times to come.