Chahal, who was with the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise from 2014 to 2021, was picked up by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 6.5 crore at the IPL 2022 mega auction.
In many ways it is a homecoming for Chahal, who was part of the Royals squad in 2010, but didn’t get a single game.
It’s understandable that he is emotionally attached to the Royal Challengers Bangalore where he spent 8 seasons (2014 to 2021).
(Rajasthan Royals Photo)
In an interview with TimesofIndia.com Chahal talks about how he was never asked by the RCB franchise if he would want to be retained and that there was never any conversation about money.
Chahal has played 114 IPL matches overall and of these 113 appearances have been for RCB, all under Virat Kohli‘s captaincy. He has taken 139 IPL wickets in all. He played only 1 match for Mumbai Indians in 2013, under Rohit Sharma‘s captaincy.
Yuzi’s 2010 Royals connection, a message for the admin, and more.Watch ▶️👇#RoyalsFamily | #TATAIPL2022 |… https://t.co/Pe1RWfQn2F
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) 1647094059000
TimesofIndia.com caught up with the Indian spinner before IPL 2022 began to talk about his RCB to RR journey, playing under Virat Kohli, his love for RCB, bonding with new India captain Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid, plans for the T20 World Cup and much more.
From Royal Challengers Bangalore to the Rajasthan Royals, what has Yuzvendra Chahal’s IPL journey so far been like and are you excited about what’s coming up next?
I am very excited. In 2010, I was with Rajasthan Royals. I was in the squad but didn’t make it to the main team (playing eleven). After a long time, say more than 10 years, I am back where I started. I am so happy and excited to be part of the team once again. It’s my first (IPL) family you can say as I started my IPL journey from here. I am excited to share the ball with Ashwin bhaiya (R Ashwin).
You played for RCB between 2014 and 2021. What was your experience with RCB and playing under Virat Kohli like?
I have a close bond with RCB, especially with the fans. I got to play a lot of matches with the team. I am emotionally attached to RCB. I never thought I would play for some other team. People and fans on social media are still asking me ‘why did you ask for this much money?’. The reality is that Mike Hesson (RCB Director of Cricket) called me and said ‘Listen Yuzi, there are three retentions’ (Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and Mohammed Siraj).
They didn’t ask me whether I wanted to be retained or tell me if they wanted to retain me. They just talked about the three retentions and I was told that – ‘we will go for you in the auction’. Neither was I asked about money nor did I get any offer of retention. But I will always be loyal to my Bangalore fans. I love them so much, no matter what.
So would it be fair to say that you expected to be retained by RCB?
The thing is they never asked me. They just called me and told me about the three retentions. If they had asked me whether I wanted to be retained, I would have said yes. Because money is secondary to me. RCB have given me so much, they gave me the platform, they gave me so much love and support, the fans gave me a lot of affection. Yes, I am attached to RCB emotionally. That’s the most important thing for me.
But now you are with a different team. Will we see the same Chahal in a different jersey now?
Obviously. The jersey will be different, but the Yuzi will be the same. You will see the same kind of wicket-taking performances and celebrations from me. It’s a new journey for me and I am very excited about it. Everything will be the same, only the jersey will change. The way I bowled and performed for RCB, I will do the same for RR also. Nothing is going to change. RR showed faith in me at the auction. Sanju (Samson) and I share a very close bond and we speak with each other and discuss plans. RR is looking like a strong side and I am sure we will win the title this time.
(Rajasthan Royals Photo)
How would you rate Rajasthan Royals’ title chances this time?
On paper, RR are the strongest team. We have solid openers Sanju (Samson), Yashasvi (Jaiswal), Devdutt (Padikkal). We have a strong middle order too with Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Karun Nair. We have amazing all-rounders and bowlers in James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, R Ashwin, and of course me. The side looks pretty good right now. In the batting, fast bowling, keeping, and spin departments, RR have managed to tick all the boxes. RR look like the perfect team.
Did you speak with Virat Kohli after you were bought by the Rajasthan Royals at the auction?
Not much. He (Virat Kohli) congratulated me and said ‘ Royal to hai hi tu‘. I learned a lot under his guidance and played a lot of cricket under him. Be it RCB or for India, he gave me a lot of freedom on the field.
Virat Kohli is no longer the captain of the Indian cricket team. The team has a new captain in Rohit Sharma. You share a good bond with Rohit…
I call him Rohitaa. The bond is the same with Rohit bhaiya. He is still the same. He is a fun-loving captain. He backs the youngsters a lot and encourages them. He always says ‘ tujhe pata hai na kya karna, jaa kar abb‘. He gives you that liberty. I have played a couple of tournaments and series under him. I didn’t see any change in him. I can trust Rohit bhai blindly.
How would you say has Virat Kohli’s role in the Indian team changed? Does he still have a leadership role, along with Rohit?
Virat bhaiya and Rohit bhaiya share a good bond. If you see the West Indies series, Virat bhaiya and Rohit bhaiya discussed things on the field. He came forward to give suggestions and discussed plans with Rohit bhaiya. They are both legends of the game and have a lot of experience. You can still reach out to Virat bhaiya for help or any tips, he is still the same and ready to help.
How would you describe the Indian dressing room under coach Rahul Dravid?
I have played under Rahul sir when he was the coach of the India A team. I played a couple of tournaments under him. I share a good bond with him. The best part is that you can reach out to him at any point in time. Rahul sir has solutions to every problem. I still remember during the Sri Lanka series, Rahul sir came into my room and said – ‘Yuzi, we are giving other people a chance’. It was a big thing when the Head Coach is coming to you and saying this. He keeps the dressing room so positive. He keeps players on the same page. There is no communication gap. There is clear communication. He doesn’t treat Virat bhaiya differently, Rohit bhaiya differently and other players differently. Everyone is the same for him. In fact, a net bowler is also the same for him.
What would you say is the biggest difference in the Indian dressing room under Rahul Dravid vis a vis what it was under Ravi Shastri?
Everyone has a different style of coaching and captaining the team. Ravi sir was different from what Rahul sir is. The team bonding is still the same. Right now, our main focus is on the World Cups (T20 WC this year, ODI World Cup in 2023). I have set some targets and I have to achieve those.
Is making the cut for this year’s T20 World Cup your next big target?
My first focus is on the IPL right now. I want to perform here and take my team to wins and take as many wickets as I can. I want to take it one step at a time. I want to go from tournament to tournament. Representing your team at the World Cup is a big honour for a player. The two World Cups coming up are certainly on my mind, but I want to focus on the present right now. The way I am bowling, I am pretty confident that I will make it to the World Cup squad.
The last time India won the T20 World Cup title was way back in the inaugural edition in 2007 under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. Do you think new India captain Rohit Sharma can do what Dhoni did in 2007, take India to a title win this time?
Yes, of course. I am confident Rohit bhaiya will take us to a World Cup win. We have a strong team. We have a bunch of talented players. We have 15 to 20 players who can do wonders for the team. We have a super-strong team and we have a bright chance of lifting the trophy this time.
How glad were you personally to see the pair of KulCha (Kuldeep and Chahal) back in Indian cricket, playing together again?
I am very happy. Kuldeep is like my younger brother. We share a very good bond both on and off-field. He was coming back after injuries and raring to go. I missed him on the field. I hugged him when he hit the ground after a long time. I want to share the ball with him and take as many wickets as possible with him. KulCha will dominate again.