Indian cricket‘s latest sensation Deepak Chahar’s father Lokendra Singh Chahar was a soldier, but the battle in a cricket field was not his ballgame. Yet, a pillar of strength for his son, Chahar Sr. taught himself to teach his child. Deepak Chahar on Sunday registered the best-ever figures (6/7) in men’s Twenty20 Internationals (T20I), breaking the record of 6/8 by Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis. Deepak Chahar also became the second Indian after women’s cricketer Ekta Bisht to take a hat-trick in T20Is, and the 12th bowler overall to take a T20I hat-trick in men’s cricket.
Retired from the Indian Air Force (IAF), Lokendra Singh trained son Deepak as a pacer. He gave the son a new ball every time Deepak went for practice. The day the ball looked worn off, it would be changed. This was how the father ensured that the son could swing the ball, as the seams need to be conspicuous for the ball to turn in the air after delivery. Deepak went on to convince his team he could swing in both directions.
Narrating the story of raising Deepak in their house in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, father Lokendra got a lump in his throat. “Now it seems that the dream we both had has come true. Before this performance, he practised at least a million deliveries at the net,” a proud father said.
Deepak’s career was interrupted due to injury. He lagged behind his peers by a few years as a result. The father acknowledged, “Those were significant stages of his career when he was injured. The time when you get hurt makes a lot of difference.”
Lokendra Singh had to stay in Ganganagar, Rajasthan, for his job with the IAF. He quit his job at one point to ensure his son became a better cricketer. He says, “When I left the Air Force job, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Never considered it a sacrifice. When I saw the boy playing at 12, he seemed to have the talent. He had innate skill. I wanted to be a cricketer myself. But my father did not allow it.”
“So I tried to fulfil my dream through my son,” says Lokendra Singh, betraying vicarious pleasure. “I wanted Deepak to dream about himself. I have no formal coaching degree. But I learned everything I needed to guide Deepak,” he said.
But how could he be sure his son would do well without a professional coach? The dad replied, “Malcolm Marshall is my all-time favourite. I like Dale Steyn, too. I used to watch the videos of these players. I used to notice the position of their wrists during outswings. I listened to commentators. After that, I taught all these things to Deepak.”
But then, Deepak Chahar’s father took him to Zila Cricket Academy in Jaipur when the son was all of 10. Lokendra Singh used to ride with him from Surat to Hanumangarh regularly to ensure Deepak practises 6 h a day.
Lokendra Singh now wants to see his son in a Test match. In his words, “It is good to play and play in the traditional format.” He believes Deepak will play for another six or seven years in T20s and ODIs. And then the dream of seeing him in a white coat in a Test match will come true, he hopes.