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Fully fit Deepak Chahar sets sights on Twenty20 World Cup

A challenging phase on personal front behind him, which sidelined him for a few assignments, India seamer Deepak Chahar is ready for a comeback and has set his sights on the T20 World Cup to be jointly hosted by the United States and West Indies later this year.

Chahar had to miss India’s tour of South Africa in December followed by the home T20Is against Afghanistan after his father suffered a brain stroke, from which he has recovered now.

“For me, my father comes first. I am here only because of him. Whatever I have achieved is because of my father. If I am not there for him in those situations, then obviously, what kind of son I am?,” Chahar told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“If the series was in India, then I would have surely tried to play. You can come to the hospital if you need within 4-5 hours. But obviously, (from) South Africa it takes 2-3 days to come back.

“It was an easy decision to be with my father — any son would do that,” he added.

Chahar said while he did not get a lot of time to train apart from doing fitness-related work, he went to the NCA to work on his readiness as he eyes a spot in India’s T20 World Cup squad.

“I was with my father in the hospital for 25 days. He was not in Agra. He was admitted in Aligarh. We all had to stay there,” he said.

“I was only able to do some exercises. I was not able to do any cricketing activities. That’s why I was not ready for the Afghanistan series. I had not practised for a month or so.

“After that I went to the NCA. I started my practice again and now I am fully fit. Everything is good. I trained really hard for the IPL and the World Cup,” he added.

Chahar said there is extra motivation for him to push for his case for selection, given that he has missed the last two T20 World Cups due to injuries.

“I have missed two (T20) World Cups because of my injuries. If I was fully fit, I would have been a part of the World Cup team as well. In any scenario or (in) any team combination, there is always a requirement for a bowler who can bat at No. 7, 8, 9. I have done that and scored runs for the Indian team,” he said.

Mahi bhai should play for another 2-3 years

For someone who shares a special bond with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chahar said he credits the CSK captain for harnessing his career and giving it longevity, but does not want the legend’s impending retirement to hit the side anytime soon.

“It took me 2-3 years to get comfortable around him (Dhoni). I see him as an elder brother and I think he treats me as a younger brother,” he said.

“We have our fun moments. During lockdown, we played a lot of PUBG together. We played a lot of games together. We spent a lot of time together off the field. I’ve been lucky to learn so much from him,” Chahar said.

“I would say because of him only I got a chance to play for India because before that, he gave me a really big chance to play all the 14 games in IPL. In 2018, I played all the 14 games.” Chahar said Dhoni, who has been struggling with a knee injury for the last one year or so, should stop taking additional responsibility in the CSK set-up at this stage of his career and must look to enjoy his game.

“I personally think he has a lot to give to cricket. He can play for another 2-3 seasons. I have seen him bat in the nets. Obviously, he had an injury that anyone can have, people at 24 have that same injury that he has.

“He has recovered well. For me personally, he should play for another 2-3 years. (But) it’s his call. He told everyone he is going to play his last game in Chennai. I think he will only decide. For us, it will be very difficult to play for CSK without him. Everyone has (always) seen CSK with Mahi bhai,” Chahar said. “He should not be taking it at this time because it is the end of his career. He should be enjoying not taking responsibility and pressure for the team. He has prepared so many cricketers like Ravindra Jadeja and other players, those who can do that job, they are good at it,” Chahar added.

Chahar said players thrive when the environment is good in the team, citing similarity between Ranji Trophy-winning side Rajasthan in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

“I have felt the same environment when I made my debut for Rajasthan. We won two titles. I still remember the atmosphere of the team was very different,” he said.

“You need to create an environment. Players are the same, players don’t change,” he said.

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