Varun Chakravarthy’s fascinating rise

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Image courtesy Twitter account of Kolkata Knight Riders
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Every IPL there is that one player who is plucked up from obscurity and is thrust into the limelight.

With the recent announcement that he will be a part of India’s T20 squad that will visit Australia later this year, it is safe to say that this year that player is Varun Chakravarthy.

Here is a look at how this student of architecture was able to make his mark in the cricketing world.

Varun was born on the 29th of August, 1991 in a place called Bidar in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Like many youngsters in India, Varun wanted to become a cricketer but couldn’t really zone in on one area where he was good when it came to cricket.

He played for his school and in local leagues rising up to the district level. However, he primarily played as a wicketkeeper.

He wanted to become a great batsman but he didn’t have the natural knack for batting that many of the successful batsmen of the game possess.

By the age of 17, he felt that cricket as a career wasn’t an option for him and he decided to pay more attention to his academic pursuits.

Turns to architecture

He was enticed by architecture and enrolled in a five-year course in Chennai. Even though he occasionally dabbled in cricket, it was more as a leisurely activity. 

By 2015 he had completed his course but failed to land a full-time job.

He tried to make ends meet by taking up small gigs as a freelancer but wasn’t very successful at it.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Varun once again turned to cricket.

Tennis ball cricket was quite popular in south India while also being somewhat lucrative.

It was around this time that Varun realized that he wasn’t cut out to be a wicket-keeper batsman and he decided to put his efforts into becoming a bowling-allrounder.

He was making good progress as a fast bowler who could bat but a knee injury in 2018 put an end to his pursuit of fast bowling as well.

Rather reluctantly he turned to spin bowling and that was when everything fell into place.

Batsmen suddenly found him very difficult to play and he started to gain quite the reputation as a mystery spinner.

This led to his big breakthrough in 2018 and he was signed by Siechem Madurai Panthers, a team in the Tamil Nadu Premier League which can be thought of as a domestic version of the IPL. 

Instant impact

He immediately made a mark by taking 9 wickets at an economy rate of just 4.7 from 10 matches.

This further opened ways for him and he broke into Tamil Nadu’s state team and made his List A debut in the 2018 Vijay Hazare Trophy. He once again proved his mettle by picking up 22 wickets in 11 first-class games at an economy rate of 4.23. 

He had also been creating quite the buzz in the IPL.

One man who was particularly impressed by Varun Chakravarthy was his team captain in the TNPL, Ravichandran Ashwin.

As a result, he was signed by the Kings XI Punjab at a whopping 8.4 crores which was 42 times his base price of 20 lakhs.

He made his IPL debut on March 27, 2019 for Punjab against KKR and would have one of the most forgettable debuts in the IPL.

He would be carted for 25 runs in his very first over which made it the most expensive debut over for any bowler in the IPL. He would bowl two more overs and would pick up a wicket but this was some baptism by fire for him.

To make matters worse, he would pick up a shoulder injury and not feature in another match in the 2019 edition of the IPL.

He was promptly dropped from the Punjab squad prior to the 2020 season.

However, another man Varun had impressed was KKR’s then skipper Dinesh Karthik and he was signed by KKR for a more modest 4 crores which was still the highest bid for a non-capped player, and this time around, he justified his reputation.

He has already picked up 17 wickets at a measly 6.84 runs per over.

He further cemented his place in the IPL on the 24th of October when he picked up five wickets in a match against Delhi Capitals and at one time was even on for a hattrick.

He has since received a call-up to the national team which should be a wonderful culmination to a mystery spinner who never wanted to be a spinner in the first place but didn’t allow adversity to bring him down.

All the best Varun for the future!

Cover image credit Kolkata Knight Riders