Chahal, who was with the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise from 2014 to 2021, was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 6.5 crore at the 2022 IPL mega auction.
In many ways, it’s a homecoming for Chahal, who was part of the Royals squad in 2010 but didn’t get a single game.
It is understandable that he is emotionally attached to Royal Challengers Bangalore where he spent 8 seasons (2014 to 2021).
(Royal Photo of Rajasthan)
In an interview with TimesofIndia.com Chahal says the RCB franchise never asked him if he wanted to be retained and there was never a conversation about the money.
Chahal has played 114 IPL matches in total and out of those 113 appearances it was for RCB, all under Virat Kohli. He took 139 IPL wickets in all. He only played one game for the Mumbai Indians in 2013, under manager Rohit Sharma.
Yuzi’s Royals 2010 login, 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 started talking about his RCB journey to RR, playing under Virat Kohli, his love for RCB, his bond with new India captain Rohit Sharma, coach Rahul Dravid, his plans for the T20 World Cup and much more.
From Royal Challengers Bangalore to Royals of Rajasthan, what has Yuzvendra Chahal’s IPL journey been like so far and are you excited for what lies ahead?
I am very excited. In 2010 I was with Rajasthan Royals. I was in the squad but I haven’t been in the main squad (playing eleven). After a long time, say more than 10 years, I am back where I started. I’m so happy and excited to be part of the team again. This is my first family (IPL), you can say I started my IPL journey from here. I am delighted to share the ball with Ashwin bhaiya (R Ashwin).
You played for RCB between 2014 and 2021. What was your experience with RCB and under Virat Kohli?
I have a close connection with RCB, especially with the fans. I was able to play a lot of matches with the team. I am emotionally attached to RCB. I never thought I would play for another team. People and fans on social media always ask me “why did you ask for so 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 if I wanted to be held or tell me if they wanted to hold me. They just talked about the three retentions and I was told that – “we’ll get you at auction”. I was also not asked about the money and received no offers 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 detentions. If they had asked me if I wanted to be retained, I would have said yes. Because money is secondary to me. RCB gave 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 emotionally attached to RCB. This is the most important thing for me.
But now you’re with a different team. Will we see the same Chahal in a different shirt now?
Obviously. The jersey will be different, but the Yuzi will be the same. You’ll see the same kind of wicket-taking performances and celebrations from me. It’s a new trip for me and I’m very excited about it. Everything will be the same, only the jersey will change. The way I bowled and bowled for RCB, I will do the same for RR too. Nothing will change. RR trusted me at the auction. Sanju (Samson) and I share a very close bond and we talk to each other and discuss plans. RR looks like a strong team and I’m sure we will win the title this time.
(Royal Photo of Rajasthan)
How do you rate the Rajasthan Royals’ title chances this time around?
On paper, RR is the strongest team. We have strong openers Sanju (Samson), Yashasvi (Jaiswal), Devdutt (Padikkal). We also have a strong intermediate order 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 striking, fast bowling, holding, and spinning departments, RR managed to tick all the boxes. RR looks like the perfect team.
Did you speak with Virat Kohli after being bought by Rajasthan Royals in the auction?
Not a lot. He (Virat Kohli) congratulated me and said ‘ Royal to hai hi you‘. I learned a lot under his guidance and played a lot of cricket with him. Whether it was RCB or for India, he gave me a lot of freedom on the pitch.
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 her Rohitaa. The link is the same with Rohit bhaiya. He is still the same. He’s a fun-loving captain. He supports young people a lot and encourages them. He always says ‘ tujhe pata hai na kya karna, jaa kar abb‘. He gives you that freedom. I played a few tournaments and series under him. I haven’t seen any change in him. I can blindly trust Rohit bhai.
How would you say Virat Kohli’s role in the Indian team has changed? Does he still have a leadership role, 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 ground. He came forward to give suggestions and discussed the plans with Rohit bhaiya. They are both legends of the game and have a lot of experience. You can always contact Virat bhaiya for help or advice, he is always the same and ready to help you.
How would you describe the Indian dressing room under coach Rahul Dravid?
I played under Rahul sir when he was India’s A team coach. I played a few tournaments with him. I share a good bond with him. The best part is that you can contact him anytime. Mr. Rahul has solutions to all problems. I still remember during 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 came up to you and said that. He keeps the dressing room so positive. It keeps players on the same page. There is no communication gap. There is clear communication. He does not treat Virat bhaiya differently, Rohit bhaiya differently and other players differently. Everyone is the same to him. In fact, a net thrower is also the same for him.
What do you think is the biggest difference in the Indian dressing room under Rahul Dravid compared to what he was under? Ravi Shastri?
Everyone has a different style of coach and team captain. Ravi sir was different from what Rahul sir is. Team cohesion is always the same. Right now we are mainly focusing on World Cups (T20 WC this year, ODI World Cup in 2023). I have set goals and I have to achieve them.
Is making the cut for this year’s T20 World Cup your next big goal?
My first goal is the IPL right now. I want to play here and take my team to wins and take as many wickets as possible. I want to take it one step at a time. I want to go from tournament to tournament. Representing his team at the World Cup is a great honor for a player. The two upcoming World Cups are certainly on my mind, but I want to focus on the present right now. The way I play, I’m pretty confident that I’ll make the World Cup team.
The last time India won the T20 World Cup title was in the inaugural edition in 2007 under manager MS Dhoni. Do you think new India captain Rohit Sharma can do what Dhoni did in 2007, take India to a title this time?
Yes of course. I am confident that Rohit bhaiya will lead us to a World Cup victory. We have a strong team. We have a group of talented players. We have 15-20 players who can do wonders for the team. We have a super strong team and we have a great chance to lift the trophy this time.
How happy 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 the pitch. He was coming back from injuries and was eager to leave. I missed him on the pitch. 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.