On the day he became a crorepati in a few minutes of intense bidding in the 2021 IPL auction, new signing of the Rajasthan Royals, Chetan Sakariya, had regret. Last month, he had lost his younger brother, to whom he was very close. He said the unexpected windfall of Rs 1.20 crore will change his life but he still felt empty.
“My younger brother committed suicide in January. I was not at home, I was playing Syed Mushtaq Ali at the time. I didn’t know he was dead until I got home. Even then, my family did not share the news with me. I used to ask them where Rahul was and they would tell me “he came out”. Sometimes they said he had ventured out to shop for groceries. This absence is a great void for me. If he had been here today he would have been happier than me, ”says the 28-year-old left arm pacemaker. .
Life has not been easy for this late bloomer. Until two years ago, Sakariya’s father Kanjibhai had a tempo to make ends meet in Vartej, a small town 10 kilometers from Bhavnagar in Gujarat. As the family didn’t own a TV until five years ago, watching cricket meant walking to a friend’s house or standing in front of electronic showrooms.
This big break did not surprise him since his stint as a net bowler with the Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL organized in the United Arab Emirates a few months ago had given him confidence. RCB showed interest in him at the auction, but it was the Rajasthan Royals who signed Sakariya.
“I was hoping this time I would be there because when I went as a net bowler for RCB during the IPL in the UAE, RCB coach Mike Hesson and Simon Katich told me that I had checked all the boxes to be part of an IPL team. RCB has tried for me, but being chosen for any team makes me happy, ”said Sakariya.
Her tiny house was inundated with neighbors and relatives. Sakariya says the phone has been buzzing from the moment it was picked. His father never wanted him to be a cricketer until his uncle intervened. When Sakariya became a regular player on the Saurashtra side, he urged his father to retire.
“I never wanted him to work,” I told him, “I’ll take care of my family. People ask me what am I going to do with so much money, I say, that money comes first. I always wanted to move to Rajkot, somehow I didn’t have enough money to buy a good house. Now the first thing I’m going to do is buy a house in a good location, ”he explains.
Sakariya played a crucial role for Saurashtra in their first Ranji Trophy title victory last year beating Bengal. He played 15 first class matches and 16 T20 matches.
The beginnings were difficult for Sakariya because of the financial conflicts of the family. His parents wanted him to focus on studying in order to get a job with the government.
However, an uncle supported him. The deal was simple. Sakariya should help stop Uncle’s stationery. The uncle would pay the tuition and also encourage him to play cricket. Sakariya’s parents were comfortable knowing that their son was playing as well as studying.
The big break came when he was selected for the Saurashtra Under-19 team. He scalped 18 wickets in six Cooch Behar Trophy matches and was on his way to the MRF Pace Foundation. Sakaria remembers wearing a good pair of bowling spikes first just before going to the MRF Allure Foundation. It was a gift from a teammate who was impressed with his participation in the national Under-19 tournament.
He then made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 2018-19 season. That year, fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat was injured and Sakariya was drafted. In his debut, he pocketed a transport of five wickets and finished the season with almost 30 wickets. Being part of the Saurashtra team that won the title the following season and beating Bengal in the final was a highlight of his career.
However, like all players, Sakariya also wanted an IPL contract. The chance to share the dressing room with some of the best and to play with and against the best cricketers has always been a dream, he says. Being able to afford a move to Rajkot for the family is a bonus.