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Inspiring story of Chetan Sakariya | RR | Saurashtra

Chetan Sakariya-Saurasthra- IPL 2021- Rajasthan Royals

In India, nothing unites people like men’s cricket. Go to any part of the country, you’ll see the game taking over the streets. Now, cricket gives you access to have role models from different countries. For Sakariya, it only took a few years to go from Irfan Pathan through Zaheer Khan to Junaid Khan.

Now, Sakariya’s family didn’t own television while growing up. Coming from Vartej, a small town which is a few Kilometres away from Bhavnagar District, Sakariya spent his younger days watching the game in neighbours’ place, sometimes, it was television showrooms. He never regretted these as he always knew that his father was trying super hard to make ends meet for the family of five.

When cricket began to take over Sakariya’s life, his family had to stop him because of the finances. The family wanted him to focus more on his studies to get a Government job and to take over the expenses. Sakariya wanted to do that but also wanted to play the game. There were days where he used to sneak out to play the game.

Seeing his passion, his uncle had to step up to provide a solution for the problem. He was a distributor of stationery products in the district and he taught Sakariya to do billing. He promised to take care of his finances, his tuition fee and his cricket fee if Sakariya works for him during his free time. It was a win-win situation for everyone.

Sakariya continued to play the game and during one of the district tournaments, Mr Gohil, a coach from Sir Bhavsinhji Cricket Academy witnessed Sakariya bowl and he wanted to provide him coaching. It worked really well for him as he soon made it to the under-16 Saurashtra team. Though he didn’t get an opportunity, make this far was progress.

When one thought that he was doing well, he picked up a glute injury. The worst part was, he had no idea what that was and how rehab worked. In fact, he used to play matches with the injury only to make it worse. As it got worse, he could bowl quickly as he used to and as a result, he had to sit out and wait for the injury to heal. It took almost a year of his life and there was uncertainty regarding his return.

A year later, he slowly came back, began to bowl for his school team. Within a few games, he was able to pick up the speed and a few good performances helped him find a ticket in the Saurashtra Under-19 team.

In the 2016-2017 Cooch Behar Trophy, he grabbed 18 wickets from 6 matches with the best of 5 for 84 in an innings. He had a four-wicket haul and a couple of three wickets as well. The officials were impressed by his speed and accuracy, wanted him to fine-tune.

They sent him to MRF Pace Foundation where he impressed McGrath immediately. The latter asked him to work on only one thing, his fitness so that he could reach 135 to 140kmph with ease.

When he was asked to join the academy, Sakariya had yet another problem, this was due to his finances. He didn’t even have a proper pair of shoes and didn’t have enough money to buy the same. That was when a tiny stint with Sheldon Jackson came in handy.

Jackson, who was more of a big name in the Saurashtra line-up at that time, called Sakariya to bowl to him at nets, the cost for the session was new shoes.

Soon, he made it to the Saurashtra squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy 2018/19. He played five matches, ended up picking 10 wickets with an economy rate just above 8.5.

Though he made it to the Vijay Hazare Trophy squad, he had only one match to his name. However, his real break came in Ranji Trophy.

Jaidev Unadkat had picked up an injury and Sakariya had to step up for the team. He made his debut against Gujarat and had picked up 5/83 in his first innings, ended the match with six wickets. He ended that season with 8 matches, 29 wickets with two five wicket-haul.

That season helped Sakariya to realize his USP. He understood that he was more of a new ball bowler and went back to the MRF Foundation to work on the same.

During one of his practice session, he picked up a stress fracture. He had to miss most of the training before the new season, after resting for more than four months and missing out Vijay Hazare Trophy, Sakariya returned to Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Unfortunately, he was no close to perfection and was everywhere. He had only six wickets there.

As he wasn’t able to bowl long spells in Ranji Trophy that season, he ended with just 12 wickets from 7 matches. That season, however, was memorable as Saurashtra became the champion, all thanks to Unadkat.

The skipper not only ended with 67 wickets but also made some brilliant calls, one of them was to make Sakariya bat at number five. It was the semi-final against Gujarat. Saurashtra made 304, thanks to Jackson’s ton and a collective bowling effort saw Gujarat rolling out for just 252 runs but the latter came back stronger with the ball, all thanks to Gaja who ran through the team’s top order. In a whisker, Saurashtra found themselves at 5 for 15.

Unadkat noticed that Gaja was more effective against the right-handers and he counter-attacked by sending the usual number eleven Sakariya up the order. Along with Vasavada, he added a 90-run partnership to bail the team out. He scored 45 runs before running himself out. The team, of course, won the match.

Right after that, the pandemic took over and it helped Sakariya to gain his fitness back. Soon, he became the net bowler for Royal Challengers Bangalore for the IPL 2020 season. During that season, he knew his IPL contract was coming as RCB management showed interest, told him that he checked all the boxes.

At the nets, Steyn and Yadav took him under their wings, taught them a few skills, right from bowling wide outside-off to the left-handers, how to come around the wicket, how to plan for a particular bowler among others.

But before the IPL auction, he was called for trials for Rajasthan Royals. He was asked to bowl six deliveries and Sakariya impressed everyone by bowling six different deliveries.

Right before the auction, Sakariya had one of the finest seasons, he will remember forever. He ended the Mushtaq Ali trophy with 12 wickets with the best of 5 for 11. He had an economy rate of 4.90, the best among the players who had 10-plus wickets. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he had eight wickets to his name.

As expected, Bangalore and Rajasthan showed interest in buying him during the IPL auction but he eventually went to Rajasthan for Rs 1.20 Crores.

The auction turned out to be a bitter-sweet moment for the family as they missed Rahul, Sakariya’s younger brother.

Rahul had decided to end his life on January 14th. At that time, Sakariya was playing in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and was making heads turn. The family had decided to keep things secret and they didn’t inform him about his demise until the season was over. They used to give him some reason whenever he asked about his brother. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

While the family is still coping up with his demise, they will now move to Rajkot for a better living.


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