Indian Premier League auctions, even if not the tournament itself, have the knack of making mystery spinners famous and the process for the 12th edition was nothing different. Tamil Nadu’s Varun Chakravarthy Vinod went from a base price of Rs 20 lakh to a whopping Rs 8.4 crore, snapped up by Kings XI Punjab in the auction in Jaipur on Tuesday.
Varun has been on a fascinating journey — from almost quitting the game for a mainstream career as an architect. He was one of the players expected to attract a lot of interest at the auction, thanks to exploits in the TNPL and for Tamil Nadu in Vijay Hazare Trophy. That happened, and then some.
Franchises love a good mystery spinner (even if it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success like KC Cariappa or Shivil Kaushik) but Varun, given his trial with Mumbai Indians for starters, was likely to have an IPL contract by the end of Tuesday.
The bid amount being 42 times his base price sent the viewers into disbelief, but a bidding war wasn’t unexpected for his services.
Varun’s breakthrough came in the TNPL where he was part of the title-winning Siechem Madurai Panthers. In the 2018 season, he took 9 wickets in 10 matches, with an extraordinary economy rate of 4.7. That earned him a call-up for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where finished as the top wicket-taker in the group stage, with 22 wickets in nine matches at an economy of 4.23. He made his Ranji Trophy this season too.
Varun initially gave up on a career in cricket when he was in class XII and then did a five-year architecture course, and worked in the field for close to two years — during which he played regularly with the tennis ball over the weekend — before deciding to leave that job and rekindle his passion for cricket as a 25-year-old.
“I don’t know, I just built up so much pressure inside me and it blasted... I just quit. I walked in and right away said I want to stop working and I came back,” now 27-year-old Varun was quoted as saying by Cricketnext. “I told my parents that my mind was not there, I just wasn’t able to do it. They understood and supported me, although I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I dusted off my old kit bag which I hadn’t used for six years. I didn’t know anything else. I had to take up cricket again.”
He was a medium-pacer when he made his return to cricket in the club circuit in Chennai but an injury to his knee kept him away from the game for a few months during which he worked on his mystery spin, that he had practiced with tennis ball.
“It took me a long time to transfer my tennis ball skills to cricket ball, but all I learned is from tennis ball cricket,” Varun told Star Sports. “TNPL was a big platform for me, the seniors in the team helped me a lot and it was a great experience playing in front of big crowds.”
Varun had sessions in the KKR nets during the 2018 IPL after a brief stint as the CSK net bowler. He got mentored by Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla, and it was evidenced by KKR’s interest in him during the bidding, where Dinesh Karthik was at the table. He also had a trial at Mumbai Indians recently.
Varun, in his own words, has close to seven different variations in his armoury and going to a franchise where he will be with R Ashwin and Mujeeb Zadran, the Tamil Nadu spinner will be right at home.
Follow the IPL auction on our live blog here.