Chetan Sakariya made his first international appearance during the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka last month, following a series of impressive performances for the Rajasthan Royals in the 2021 Indian Premier League. The left-arm pacer played in single ODI and two T20Is during the tour, which saw India winning the ODI series 2-1 and conceding a defeat in the T20Is with the same scoreline.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, Sakariya talked about his experience in Sri Lanka and playing under the coaching of Rahul Dravid. The former Indian captain was the head coach for the side in the absence of Ravi Shastri, who remained with the Indian Test team in the United Kingdom.
Sakariya revealed that Dravid hands out a "chart paper" to all the members of the team, detailing their strong points.
"Rahul sir hands out a chart paper which has all the details about a player's game; what are their strong points, where they can improve. He gave one to me as well and asked me to focus on those parts. He believes that every player has their own strengths, and likewise my bowling style is entirely different to all the other players," Sakariya said.
When asked if Dravid made any specific comment on his bowling, Sakariya said, "He noted during a practice session that the ball leaves from my hand with slow pace, but it skids rapidly off the surface which makes it difficult for the batsmen sometimes."
The 23-year-old pacer also said that it was Dravid who personally told him about his debut.
"Rahul sir indicated a day before the game that I could make my debut. After the end of the second ODI, Rahul sir came to me while we were practicing and told me to be ready. I had an idea then that I may get a chance and I prepared myself accordingly," said Sakariya.
"Finally, when we reached the ground for the final ODI, I found out that I would be playing. Rahul sir personally told me."
Sakariya made his debut in the final ODI of the three-match series and admitted that he was nervous before the game. However, a pep-talk from senior bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped him calm down.
"It was relatively easy when I debuted in the IPL. It was normal after 1-2 deliveries there. But I was very nervous before my India debut. It felt like my body froze. Before the match, I was doing my practice and Bhuvi bhai (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) noticed that I was nervous because I couldn't even run the way I normally do during practice sessions. He even came to me and asked, "Are you feeling nervous?" I replied, "Bhaiya, I can't even feel my body!" Sakariya recalled.
"But then he gave me a pep-talk. He told me that everyone feels the same, you only need to focus on your own performance. We have already won the series, don't worry about the result."
Sakariya also mentioned that practicing with Bhuvneshwar was a fruitful learning experience for him.
"Bhuvi bhaiya is very specific about his bowling action. He is very wary of the number of steps he takes in his stride. He told me to feel my action. 'Only when you feel your action, you will be able to bowl accurately,' he says," Sakariya noted about Kumar.
The youngster also said that he talked to Kumar about his knuckle ball. "His style is a little different. He holds the ball in normal seam position but hides it behind his fingers at the time of loading. It is quite difficult, I tried to do it but soon realised that it would take me a lot of patience and time to do it successfully. But I'll continue to work on it."
Sakariya will be next seen in action in the 2021 edition of the IPL, which will resume on September 19. The IPL was suspended mid-way due to COVID-19 cases in the camps of multiple participating franchises.