MUMBAI: If cricket can be a balm to soothe pain, Chetan Sakariya can vouch for it. The left-arm seamer from Saurashtra made a dream start to his IPL career, for the Rajasthan Royals, when he took 3-31 on a flat wicket at the Wankhede Stadium, standing out as his team were pipped in a thriller by Kings XI Punjab on Monday night.
Referring to media reports about a tragic incident and admirable sacrifice on the part of Sakariya’s family, while the youngster was playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Indore in January this year, opening great Virender Sehwag tweeted on Tuesday: “Chetan Sakariya’s brother died of suicide few months ago, his parents didn’t tell him for 10 days as he was playing the SMA trophy. What cricket means to these young men, their families. IPL is a true measure of the Indian dream & some stories of extraordinary grit.”
Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak, a former domestic stalwart, told TOI from Rajkot: “One of his friends called me from Bhavnagar and told me that his family didn’t want me not to tell him about his brother’s death, since he was playing in a tournament. In the very next game, he took 5-11 vs Vidarbha at Indore. Later, he left for Mumbai for a trial for the Mumbai Indians. Then, he felt that something was wrong when he couldn’t speak to his brother for a couple of days. Worried, he left for Bhavnagar, and was naturally very shaken.”
“After a couple of days, I called him to inform him that the Royals wanted to call him for a trial. They requested me to tell him because he was disturbed and not responding to any calls after his brother’s death,” revealed Kotak.
A month later, Sakariya was bought by the Royals for Rs 1.2 crore in the IPL auction. “Since the past couple of years, I had been recommending his name to three-four franchises, saying that you won’t get a better player at just Rs 20 lakhs, but they didn’t seem convinced. Some felt he was too short,” rued Kotak.
“However, after he did well in Syed Mushtaq Ali (he took 12 firstname.lastname@example.org in five games) for Saurashtra in Mushtaq Ali, two-three franchises wanted to see him, and RR picked him up. “He’s a good cricketer, a good fielder, and can bat too. He’s a hardworking boy,” explained Kotak.
Getting to play cricket itself has been a struggle for Sakariya. His father was a tempo driver, who could not bear his expenses. “He hails from Vartej, a village four kilometres off Bhavnagar. He was in a government school there and shifted to our school (Vidyavihar school in Bhavnagar) when he was in eighth standard to play cricket. He was a very good batsman initially, before turning into a left-arm pacer. He was from a very poor family and didn’t have money to buy shoes and cricketing equipment. His mama (maternal uncle), who’s in a better financial condition, and our school helped him. He would assist in his mama’s business,” Kotak said.