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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: RR vs PBKS: Player of the Day – Chetan Sakariya

On debut, the fearless Chetan Sakariya stole the show.

Chetan Sakariya picked up three wickets on his IPL debut. [Credits: Cricinfo]
Chetan Sakariya picked up three wickets on his IPL debut. [Credits: Cricinfo]

Anjishnu Roy

Updated: 13 April 2021 3:33 AM GMT

We know, we know what you're thinking.

Where's Deepak Hooda? Where's KL Rahul? And where the hell is Sanju awesome Samson?

All of those players were genuine contenders for the Player of the Day, but to do what Chetan Sakariya has done in the biggest game of his life so far and with the context of everything he has gone through, there weren't any doubts for us about who deserved the title.

The Indian Premier League is known to bring struggling, budding young cricketers hoping to realize their dream of making it in professional cricket to the limelight. Over the years, it has told us several wonderful stories.

Chetan Sakariya became the latest addition to that beautiful list.

In just his second over of the match, young Chetan spotted Mayank Agarwal coming down the track and darting to his right.

Sensing an opportunity, he bowled a full-length delivery wide of off-stump knowing Mayank would take the bait.

And so, he did.

The Punjab Kings batsman could only get the edge of his bat to Chetan's ball and it travelled safely to Sanju Samson behind the stumps.

The 22-year-old has been the sole breadwinner for his family over the last few years.

He had a very difficult childhood, growing up in a place called Vartej, several kilometres away from Rajkot.

Sakariya's father's ailing health meant that the young bowler had to step in to provide for his family and had it not been for his maternal uncle's support, maybe Chetan wouldn't have been playing the sport to begin with.

Chetan Sakariya followed up his first two overs in the Powerplay by bowling the 17th over.

Punjab Kings had 172 runs on board and Deepak Hooda and KL Rahul looked extremely menacing. Despite this, Sakariya kept them at bay and conceded just two runs in the first four deliveries.

But then things started to go wrong.

Deepak Hooda smashed 13 runs over the next few deliveries, which also included a no-ball.

Sakariya buried his face in his palms.

The 22-year-old's road to Rajasthan Royals hasn't been easy.

As a 17-year-old, he ended up getting injured while trying to exert himself too much. During his spell on the sidelines, Chetan Sakariya had to help out his uncle in his stationery dealership.

He was trusted with making the bills, updating passbooks, issuing cheques, taking care of payments among other things.

Sakariya's road to redemption against Punjab Kings began by leaping for the skies, literally.

Getting a short wide ball, Nicholas Pooran tried to pull it late to the boundary. However, he failed to get enough willow on it and Sakariya, standing at fine leg, dived for the ball and took a wonderful, safe catch with both his hands remaining closed at every moment.

Tough times don't last, tough people do

A few months ago, while Chetan Sakariya was busy playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, his brother ended up taking his own life.

Sakariya's mother hid the information from Sakariya so that he could focus on the tournament and on his game.

For almost 10 days, Chetan had no idea that he had lost his brother.

Sakariya finished as the sixth highest wicket-taker in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year. [Credits: Cricinfo]

When he eventually did receive the news, he was left devastated.

According to his family, the young bowler did not speak to anybody for a week. He refused to eat and withdrew himself from everyone.

A month later, Rajasthan Royals secured his services for INR 1.2 crores, a financial sum Chetan and his family had never even dreamt of.

And tonight, here he was, bowling to the likes of KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, and Mayank Agarwal.

Between the tragedy of personal loss and the glory of realizing his dreams, the boy had become the man.

And the man was entrusted to bowl the key final over of the innings.

KL Rahul was on strike and he was in the 90s. Sakariya kept the delivery full and Rahul managed to get underneath it but not quite in the manner he would've wanted to.

The ball looked destined to cross the boundary ropes but Rahul Tewatia dismissed his namesake by taking a superb catch.

He brought the ball down, lifted it back up to give his body enough room to balance itself, and then took it again safely, all the time while hugging the touchline rope.

Sakariya conceded just one run off the next three deliveries in the all-important final over.

For the last ball of the innings, he chose a back-of-the-hand slower ball that deceived Jhye Richardson, earning the 22-year-old a precious and well-deserved three-wicket haul on his debut.

It isn't easy to overcome tragedy and replace it with the success of a passionate craft.

Few of us can put ourselves in Chetan Sakariya's shoes to even get a sense of how things unfolded over the last few months.

Despite the odds stacked heavily against him, Sakariya pounced upon the opportunity and seized the moment.

Take a bow, young lad.

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