After spending countless sleepless nights preparing for juries, scribbling on chart papers and attending lectures on space, colour and design, an architect decided to chase his long-forgotten cricket dream. Varun Chakravarthy was bought by Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the 2019 IPL auction for a whopping Rs 8.2 crore. But unfortunately the Chennai-based mystery spinner got to play only one match that entire season because of an injury. Bought by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 2020 IPL auction for Rs 4 crore, he has been a constant figure in the KKR playing eleven this season.
Varun, who had even stopped following cricket entirely the five years he studied architecture, listened to that voice in his head couple of years after being a part of a firm as an architect. Though he loved architecture, he felt that he couldn’t express himself completely in that platform. Even just bowling in the nets gave him that contentment he was searching for. He started off as a wicketkeeper-batsman at 13 and quit the game at 17. He started playing again at the age of 22 as a medium-pacer and self taught a lot of the skillsets in his armory. Having spent so much time studying and visualising space and angles, he was naturally inclined to the art of spin bowling, though it was an injury that forced him to switch from his medium-pace to spin.
When he was picked for the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), very few knew who he was. But after performing exceptionally in multiple games, the cricket fraternity took note of this mystery man with unorthodox bowling. Bowling to superstars as a net bowler in the 2018 edition of the IPL and listening to advice from spinners Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Imran Tahir gave Varun a lot of clarity and belief in the path he had chosen for himself. Ravichandran Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik, who were both captains of IPL franchises in 2019, were impressed by Varun and that interest resulted in a bidding war between KXIP and KKR in 2019 for Varun. That bidding ended with KXIP making the highest bid ever in the history of IPL auction for an uncapped Indian player.
Though Varun got injured last year during the IPL and couldn’t showcase his skills, he has been one of the most economical spinners in the tournament this year. He picked up the wicket of Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner in his first over for KKR. Since then ‘caution’ is the only strategy most batsmen have employed against him. He got the priced wicket of Shikhar Dhawan in the game against Delhi Capitals. But it is obvious that Varun’s favourite moment in the IPL was when he got M S Dhoni bowled. The 29-year-old Varun’s career is just starting off. Irrespective of where his journey takes him from here, the legend of Varun will forever be special in IPL’s history books.
Defying the odds
Pravin Tambe debuted in the IPL at the age of 41. Mike Hussey made his international debut for Australia at the age of 30 and is today called “Mr. Cricket”. But these men always had cricket as part of their lives from a very young age. Varun though, was once convinced that his playing days were behind him. He failed to make selections when he played as a kid. Someone had told Varun that wherever you fail the most, that is exactly where you will find the most success. So he gave cricket a last shot and promised himself that it will be his best shot. He delivered as promised and now Indian cricket is grateful for his perseverance. Varun has reminded the world that with passion and an enviable discipline anything is truly possible if you put in the work.