Yuzvendra Chahal (Image courtesy: AFP)
Yuzvendra Chahal (Image courtesy: AFP)

Yuzvendra Chahal’s rise as an international cricketer has been fascinating. The 27-year-old has emerged as the mainstay for Men in Blue due to his consistency. It was during the Zimbabwe tour of 2016 when Chahal made his India debut. He received his cap from the then skipper MS Dhoni.

“I had a good IPL season and never knew the team was going to be announced. When the names were revealed on the BCCI website, I could believe my eyes and kept looking it for half an hour. Seeing my name I cried a lot. The day I wore the jersey, I can’t even describe in words.

“I received the ODI cap from MS Dhoni. He is a legend and the first time I met him I was not even able to talk in front of him. When I met him for the first time in Zimbabwe I used called him Mahi Sir. After a while, he called me over and said, ‘Mahi, Dhoni, Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Bhai… Call me whatever you want but not sir’,” Chahal reminisced in Breakfast with Champions.

Chahal went on to reveal that skipper Virat Kohli inspires him. Chahal plays for the Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in IPL.

Yuzvendra Chahal: It's about how mentally tough you are when you play overseas
Yuzvendra Chahal: It's about how mentally tough you are when you play overseas

“Virat bhaiya (big brother) inspires me a lot. Both on and off the field, he helps me a lot. He told me that my life has changed and I need to stay fit. Now I know that fitness is important. Even I am feeling better after working out”, Chahal added.

Shane Warne was Chahal’s cricketing hero and as a youngster, he copied the Australian great’s action.

“Shane Warne was my cricketing hero while growing up. First, my action, during under 14 was similar. In this action, in Haryana under 19, I changed my action in the middle of the match. I ran a little longer and knew there will be less spin and that paid dividends. That turned out to be my best decision. I never overthink in pressure situations because now I am mentally strong,”Chahal further added.

Friendship with Andrew Symonds

Not many know of this but Chahal shares a strong friendship bond with former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds. Both were part of the Mumbai Indians (MI) setup in 2011.

“We’re very close. In 2011, I debuted with Mumbai Indians and he was also there with the team. He was lodged in the room next to mine so one day he came over and we went down to the pool and chatted for a while. Next day, he figured out my phone number from somewhere and messaged me saying, ‘Where are you?’ and we went out again. We developed a great bond from thereon and have been friends ever since.

“Whenever I go to Australia, I love to go fishing with him. He is a great host. His wife even learnt how to cook Butter Chicken for me by following recipes on the internet. When I went there to meet them, there was Butter Chicken ready for me.

“He is also a very misunderstood person. Not arrogant at all. You get to know the real Andrew Symonds when you spend some time with him. He is always available and has even danced with me on a Haryanvi folk song ‘Ragini’,” revealed the Haryana bowler.

Chahal next assignments are India’s limited-overs tour to Ireland and England.