When in doubt, Chahar dials Imran Tahir’s number

The South African leggie, who was Rahul Chahar’s team-mate at the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in the IPL, keeps giving him inputs.

Mumbai Indians' leg-spinner Rahul Chahar in action against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2019.   -  AP

 

In his formative years, Rahul Chahar would idolise Australian spin icon, Shane Warne. But over the years, he has moved on. From being a fan of Warne, the 19-year-old leg-spinner now looks up to Imran Tahir.

The South African spinner, who was his team-mate at the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant, has helped Chahar improve his game.

“I have his (Tahir’s) contact number, so whenever I have a problem, I call him up and he guides me. He always helps me,” Chahar, who now plays for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL), said on Saturday.

Tahir is the highest wicket-taker (21) for Chennai Super Kings this season.

READ| MI leggie Rahul Chahar asked to bowl quicker on the fast lane

In this edition of the tournament, Chahar has scalped 10 wickets from as many matches and he admits that he has learned a lot by following Tahir.

“When I was a kid, I would follow Warne. Now, I follow Tahir. He brings in variation and no matter how the wicket or the conditions are, he generates turn. He knows how to ball in every condition. That helps,” he said.

When Chahar went to England with the India U-19 team, he took tips from Tahir. “When I went to England with India U-19 team, I did not know how to deliver in those conditions. It is difficult to grip the ball there, so he told me to put some sand on the ball and that worked,” the young gun revealed.

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Though he had a good outing with the Pune franchise a couple of years ago, he had to warm the bench in MI last season. But as he got an opportunity this season, the leggie made it count.

“Experiences teach you a lot. Last year also, I was with MI, even though I did not play. But I got to learn a lot. Be it from Sachin (Tendulkar) sir, (Mahela) Jayawardene, Bondy (Shane Bond)…,” he said.

After the first three matches this season, Chahar had a bit of problem with his bowling, but Mumbai’s Director of Cricket Operations, Zaheer Khan, helped him better the situation. “There was some problem with my delivery. The ball was not turning near the stumps, so next day, Zaheer sir got me to the nets and told me how to get the right turn. They are always around, so it helps,” he said.

His cousin, Deepak, has emerged as the bowling mainstay for CSK, and has also played T20Is for India.

And Chahar hopes that they get to don the India colours together, someday. “When we started playing cricket, uncle (his coach and Deepak’s father, Lokendra Chahar) wanted to see both of us playing for India together. It is our dream as well…,” the spinner, who plays for Rajasthan in domestic circuit, said.

Last year, when India U-19 travelled to New Zealand for the World Cup, Chahar was left out of the side. But he took it as a positive.

“Whatever happens in your life, happens for a reason. When I was not selected for the World Cup, I got to learn a lot from it. I worked hard in between. Had I been busy with other things, I wouldn’t have been able to perform. I backed myself and tried getting better,” he said.

That certainly has worked for him as he picked up 10 wickets in the tournament at an economy of 7.05.