I thank tennis ball cricket for my skills, says mystery bowler Varun

Varun Chakravarthy

Chennai:┬áIndian Premier League never failed to throw surprises every year – be it on field or off field. This premier T20 tournament threw a pleasant surprise last evening at the auction for the 2019 edition, in Jaipur, when uncapped Varun Chakravarthy fetched big money.

Unheralded architect-turned-cricketer, who is ‘namma Chennai payyan’, fetched a sensational bid of Rs 8.4 crore, more than 40 times his base price.

Varun, with a base price of Rs 20 lakh, went to Kings XI Punjab after a bidding war that also involved Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. The spotlight was firmly on Varun, the 27-year-old mystery spinner from Tamilnadu, who gave up a career as freelance architect to pursue cricket.

The news has come as a surprise for Varun, too. Speaking to News Today over phone, Varun says, “I am over the moon… I never expected this (to be picked up for such a big amount). I thought I would be bought at my base price.”

“It is a big opportunity for me. I can’t express my happiness in words. I hope to learn a lot from people like Ravichandran Ashwin, who is the captain of Kings XI Punjab, and the others. I can pick the brains of leading international stars and use it to become a better cricketer,” he exulted.

He played school cricket when he was a student of St Patrick’s. But gave up the sport when he joined Bachelors in Architecture at SRM University.

TNPL achiever.

“Since I was disappointed that I could not get the right break in my cricketing career, I gave it up. However, I chose to return to the ground, hoping to give one last try,” he says, and adds, “Initially, I bowled medium-pace before taking up spin. However, injury forced me to give up bowling medium-pace and turn to spin.”

Things took a positive spin once he started to bowl spin. Varun has risen to prominence owing to a strong showing in the Tamilnadu Premier League. He has been widely credited for Madurai Panthers’ maiden TNPL title win this year.

“My good show in the Vijay Hazare Trophy brought me into prominence and probably IPL franchises would have taken note. I am looking forward to sharing the dressing room with the big names of the game.”

Son of a government employee, Varun lives at Kottur, in Chennai. He says, “A big thanks to my parents. They motivated and encouraged me a lot.”

Ask him how he developed such variations, Varun, says, “I should thank the tennis ball cricket that I played with my friends.”

HIS STRENGTHS

Varun has the ability to bowl a variety of deliveries. He mixes off-spinners and leg-cutters making it tough for batsmen to pick him. Varun picked up nine wickets in TNPL and was able to carry on the good work in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He also attended trials with IPL team Mumbai Indians earlier this year. Apart from being a quality slow bowler, Varun is adept with the bat too.

WHAT THE FRANCHISE SAYS

“We had to wait and see how the bid was going (for Varun). He can bowl in the Powerplay and in the death and can also bat,” said KXIP coach Mike Hesson.

M BHARAT KUMAR