India is a nation where most kids dream of playing cricket for the national team one day. However, only a select few go on to realise this dream, breaking through one of the most competitive domestic structures world sport has seen. In the midst of all this you have talents like Varun Chakravarthy who break into the team despite not playing competitive cricket during his teenage years.
Born in 1991 in Chennai, Varun Chakravarthy graduated from SRM university with a degree in architecture. He always had a passion for cricket and during his youth years, he was quite good at tennis ball cricket. Back then, Varun wanted to emulate Dinesh Karthik and become a keeper batsman! After completing graduation, Varun took up a job as an architect and later started his own business because of which cricket took a back seat.
Cricket though was always his true calling and Varun would often took leaves from work to continue playing cricket. Playing club cricket in Chennai, Varun quickly rose through the ranks, developing his art as a spinner, who had the ability to fox batsmen at will with his guile and mystery.
In 2018, Varun got an opportunity to bowl to Dinesh Karthik in the nets at Chepauk. Then KKR skipper, Karthik was impressed with Varun and soon after the Knights offered Varun to come and train with the team. Varun lapped up the opportunity to train and travel with the Knights team as a nets bowler. During this stint, he shared the dressing room with the likes of Sunil Narine, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell helped him grow in confidence as a cricketer.
Later that year in the 2018 TNPL, Varun Chakravarthy starred as the Madurai Panthers emerged champions with Varun bowling at an economy of 4.7 through the tournament and finishing with figures of 2/9 of 4 overs in the final. Following his success in the TNPL, Varun made his debuts for Tamil Nadu in both the Vijay Hazare Trophy and first class cricket. With 22 wickets from 9 outings, Varun was Tamil Nadu’s most prolific bowler in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and this got him attention from several IPL franchises.
In the 2019 IPL Auction, when his name came up for bidding, Varun thought he would at best find a taker at his base price. He was snapped up by Kings XI Punjab for a whooping figure of 8.4 crores, the joint highest price at the auction that year. Cricket fans around the globe, who had no idea who he was, took to the internet to dig up information and soon he was trending across social sites.
However, Varun endured a tough debut season in the IPL, sustaining an injury early in the season and then missing the rest of the tournament to subsequently being released by the Punjab based franchise. Varun though was no stranger to setbacks in his life. For a brief moment in time, Varun had tried his hand as an assistant director in Tamil Cinema but that didn’t materialise into something substantial. Later, he faced substantial losses when the Chennai floods damaged some of the projects he was working on as an architect. Each time life has thrown him a curveball, he has emerged on the other side stronger and more resilient than before.
In the 2020 IPL auction, KKR came calling, showing great faith in an unproven Varun Chakravarthy by securing his services for 4 crores. The spinner responded, taking 17 wickets in 13 games, highest among the Knights bowlers with best figures of 5/20, making him one of the hottest finds from that edition of the IPL. His exploits in the subsequent season in the IPL earned him a ticket to the T20 World Cup with the Indian National team. Varun however didn’t have the best of years in 2022, as the IPL returned to India but in a closed venue format limited to Maharastra.
Varun, who had played most of his cricket for KKR in the UAE found it difficult to adjust to the pitches in Mumbai and Pune which were not as conducive to his bowling as the tracks in UAE were. Post the season, Varun went back to the drawing board, work on his basics and remodel parts of his bowling routines. Varun showed signs of progress in last year's TNPL and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The spinner also played a considerable amount of club matches in the run up to this year’s IPL to ensure he had the best preparation coming into the tournament.
This season, at 31, Varun Chakravarthy is a senior pro in a young KKR side and he has used his experience over the last 5 years to good effect, adapting to a variety of conditions to pick up 9 wickets in 6 games. Varun looked at his imperious best in the match against the Royal Challengers where he returned figures of 4/15 in 3.4 overs. He also became the fastest Indian spinner in KKR history to get to 50 wickets after picking up 2 wickets against Delhi Capitals earlier in the week. A special player that possesses the ability to win games through his magical spells, Varun will be looking to build on the start and win many more games for the Knights this season.