Can Varun Chakravarthy prove deserving for KKR again?
BADSHAHCRIC : : Varun Chakravarthy burst onto the cricket scene in 2018 as an enigmatic spinner with plenty of variation, but his life - and career - has more twists and turns than variations in his repertoire.
He started his career as a goalkeeper who wanted to become "the next Dinesh Karthik", then appeared as an actor in the Tamil film Jeeva while trying to break through as an assistant director. Somewhere down the line, he ditched movies and cricket for architecture. He then returned to cricket again as an enigmatic all-rounder who could turn the ball both ways at a quick pace.
It was these abilities, a prized and unusual skill set that gave the Kolkata Knight Riders attack a strong edge in IPL 2020 and 2021. Immediately, Varun got to play for India in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE. However, in IPL 2022, his form and rhythm dipped so much that he was benched for three games. The ball wasn't quite turning both ways or giving him much chance to do so by uncharacteristically throwing it too full, allowing the batters to get under the length and pump it over the top. The mystery seemed to have disappeared from his bowling.
There is one constant theme in Varun's life: he has always bounced back from setbacks – on and off the field. For instance, he launched his own architecture firm in 2017, however the Chennai floods that year ruined his site, which resulted in heavy losses but he did manage to overcome this disappointment. The setbacks were catalysts for him to come back. Like when he decided to switch from architecture to cricket.
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After experiencing such lows in his life, Varun didn't let a few bad games in the IPL last season send him into a shell. "Yes, of course, I take lessons [from life]," he says. "Cricket is a major part of my life and whatever happens in my life also affects cricket. So I try to implement life lessons in my cricket as well and I have understood that even during your ups and downs you should be level headed and the only people who will always be with you, they are your family.”
"I know I'm not reliable or damage-proof and I expected a season like this [IPL] at some point. Everyone goes through bad times, but it's about coming back."
Sriram Krishnamurthy, Varun's coach at Madurai Panthers in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and former coach of the Northern Brave Men in New Zealand, credits Varun with maintaining balance in both cricket and life. "Even though he's had the IPL season he's had, one good thing about Varun that we've seen from day one is that he never gets too high and he never gets too low," says Sriram. “Even though his confidence was dented after the last IPL, he was not broken and that depends on the person he is.
What went wrong with Varun last season?
Having worked his way up from a tennis background, he hadn't previously played or practised as much as he had in the past five years. In doing so, he deviated from his strengths and some undesirable technical changes crept into his bowling as well. His run-up has slowed, his lengths have been fuller and overall his bowling has lost some of its buzz.
In the UAE, Varun got some of his fullers to skid or delay the pitch, but on the relatively undemanding Indian tracks last season, his batters lined up easily. According to Badshahbook dailies, he conceded 107 runs off 48 full balls last IPL.
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