This all-rounder 'threatens' Hardik Pandya for place in team

New Delhi, Oct 10: Aiming to cement his place in the national team in white ball cricket -- a Herculean task by his own admission -- young India pacer Deepak Chahar wants to be counted as a new-ball bowler who is also handy with the bat.

"I can bat too. I was drafted in as a replacement for Hardik Pandya in the Asia Cup."

"So I want to prove myself as a batsman also. I want to be the all-rounder in the side who can bowl with the new ball. I want to train myself in such a manner that if selectors want a new ball bowler, they pick me, and also if they want an all-rounder they pick me," Chahar said on the sidelines of a Vijay Hazare Trophy match.

Rajasthan are in Elite Group C of the 50-over domestic meet.

Chahar said he would look to make the most of the batting opportunities in the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year to further establish himself.

"I got runs in one of the IPL matches. Mahi bhai (as Chennai Super Kings skipper M.S. Dhoni is fondly called) sent me up the order. This year, I hope to get more opportunities with the bat to prove myself. The team gets balance when a fast bowler bats well too."

"This is a terrific Indian side. You are always expected to behave like the No.1 side in the dressing room. Look at the options the team has and the depth in squad. It won't be easy for me to be a regular," he said.

Chahar replaced injured all-rounder Pandya in the Asia Cup which India won. Chahar made an unimpressive debut against Afghanistan under Dhoni's captaincy, with figures of 4-0-37-1.

Earlier, the 26-year old made his Twenty20 debut in England, finishing with 1/43 in his four overs.

"The start was not good. But I will hope to get another chance," said Chahar, expected to make the limited overs squad for the West Indies series at home.

"I am working really hard. The IPL has helped me a lot. When IPL was not there, debutants used to feel the pressure playing in front of big crowds. But with the IPL, you have already experienced that pressure before making coming into the international circuit," he said.

Since making his debut in the Ranji Trophy at the age of 18 and dismantling the Hyderabad batting line-up for just 21 -- Chahar picked 8 for 10 and finished the season with 30 wickets -- a spate of injuries put him off the radar for a while.

It was only in the IPL under Dhoni that Chahar reached his true potential. First, he played for Rising Pune Supergiants before moving to CSK, where he was a vital cog of the title-winning team. He picked up 10 wickets at an average of 27.80.

"He (Dhoni) used me so well in the IPL and he is always effusive in praise of me. When Dhoni bhaiya speaks highly of someone, people take it seriously. He made me play all the matches and later told me that he wanted that."

"He had told the management that Deepak will play every game. That matters a lot. We won the IPL and performing in the IPL matters. I have been doing well in domestic cricket since a long time. If you have to play for India, you have to also do well in the IPL and show that you can handle pressure," Chahar said about Dhoni's influence in his fledgling career.

Asked about the presence of Pandya as an all-rounder already in the side, Chahar said the former is an asset for the team going into the World Cup.

"He is an asset and he cannot be replaced. He is a big hitting batsman and I feel looking ahead to the World Cup, Hardik is a vital cog in the team's wheel. I am not competing with him."

"I just want to improve my batting too so that the team management has more reasons to pick me. It is very difficult to break into this Indian limited overs side now. So I always have to look for opportunities to better my all round ability." 

IANS