The Glenn McGrath role in Chetan Sakariya's upswing

Chetan Sakariya, the Saurashtra fast bowler, understands winning the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 title could open up new horizons for him.

Chetan Sakariya (right) has 26 wickets from 12 innings, and is confident of doing better.   -  Vivek Bendre

Holding Jaydev Unadkat’s hands, Chetan Sakariya is unlocking new layers of challenges with every game. Saurashtra’s third Ranji Trophy final berth has pushed the 20-year-old left-arm pacer to a different sphere of self-assessment.

Sakariya, whose swing was once limited to Vidya Vihar High School in Bhavnagar, is currently working out plans for Wasim Jaffer. Come February 3, he will have another chance to bowl to the Vidarbha batting mainstay — a legend of the premier red-ball domestic tournament. Unadkat had got the man in the group stage encounter.

Having claimed 26 wickets in 12 innings, comprising a five-for on debut against Gujarat, Sakariya is confident of doing better. Ahead of the big occasion, Sakariya reveals the brain behind his ascension. “It is all because of Glenn McGrath,” he tells Sportstar.

The youngster has been training at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai for two years, where the Australian legend is the director. “My body would drop during release. The MRF camp with Glenn sir helped me improve on action, fitness as well as line-and-length. He analysed my action in the video footage and suggested the corrections. My previous action was slightly injury-prone. He told me if I improve in these departments, I will have more pace and I can remain injury-free for a long time,” he adds.

Glenn McGrath provided tips to Chetan Sakariya to improve his bowling and reduce potential injuries. File Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam


McGrath’s corrective measures increased his pace from the 120s to the early 130s. “Earlier, I could only swing the ball. I touched 130 after correcting my action,” Sakariya points out.

Saurashta coach Sitanshu Kotak spotted Sakariya at the Cooch Behar Trophy and later, was instrumental in sending him to the pace foundation.

Importance of Ranji Trophy final

“His (Jaffer) leg-side flick is very effective. The plan is not to make him play in his strong areas. You can’t bowl at the stump line, unko thoda bahaar ki taraf khilaayenge (we will try to make him play wide of off-stump),” Sakariya says.

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A title win from here could make Sakariya’s debut season all the more fruitful. “It is very important. If we win, it will be our first title in three attempts. This time, everybody has a winning mindset. The team environment is good. People back each other and share responsibilities. And I get to learn a thing or two from everyone, from Jaydev bhai, Sheldon bhai, Pujara [Cheteshwar] ji and Sitanshu sir. Learning and attaining success is a win-win situation,” he adds.

Captain’s guidance

A partnership with Saurashtra skipper Unadkat is helping Sakariya understand his field positions better. “Jaydev bhai lets me bowl to my plans. He steps in only if anything goes wrong. If something doesn’t work, he comes and feeds me ideas. He would say, ‘Do this, it may work, I will get you a fielder there’. He has a lot of knowledge and plans in place,” he says.

Sakariya’s career is likely to go further up if he gets handsome returns from the Ranji Trophy final. Even if that doesn’t happen, he has already ensured a great start.

Sakariya’s route to final
  • 5 for 85 & 1 for 71 against Gujarat
  • 0 for 94 against Baroda
  • 6 for 63 & 1 for 62 against Maharashtra
  • 3 for 86 & 3 for 47 against Mumbai
  • 2 for 72 against Vidarbha
  • 1 for 69 & 3 for 38 against Uttar Pradesh
  • 1 for 32 & 0 for 38 against Karnataka.

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