Tamil Nadu mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who has as many as seven variations up his sleeve, is over the moon after being bought by Kings XI Punjab for a whopping Rs 8.4 crore, more than 40 times his base price, at the IPL auction in Chennai on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old from Chennai was an unknown quantity till he turned heads with his performances in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and the Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier this year.
The architect-turned cricketer said getting a buyer for a base price of Rs 20 lakh was the only thing on his mind.
“I am over the moon... I never expected this (to be picked up for such a big amount). I thought I would be bought at my base price,” said Varun.
He broke into the Tamil Nadu 50-overs team on the back of impressive performances in the TNPL for eventual champions Siechem Madurai Panthers and subsequently made his Ranji Trophy debut.
He said being picked by an IPL team would help him grow as a cricketer as he could learn from Indian stars including KXIP captain and fellow Tamil Nadu spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
“It is a big opportunity for me. I can’t express my happiness in words. I hope to learn a lot from people like Ravichandran Ashwin, who is the captain of Kings XI Punjab and the others. I can pick the brains of leading international stars and use it to become a better cricketer,” he said.
Varun was designing buildings a few years ago, having completed Bachelors in Architecture from SRM University in Chennai.
He initially bowled medium-pace before taking up spin. However, injury forced him to give up bowling medium-pace and turn to spin and his fortunes changed as he began to make an impact in the highly competitive city league.
“I stopped being a medium-pacer and took up spin bowling as I felt it would put less pressure on my knee (which I had injured). As it happened the move worked,” he said.
Varun said his good show in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, during which he took 22 wickets, helped him get noticed and brought him on the radar of IPL franchises.
“My good show in the Vijay Hazare Trophy brought me to prominence and probably IPL franchises would have taken note. I am looking forward to sharing the dressing room with the big names of the game,” he added.
He attracted attention during the TNPL for his ability to bowl a variety of deliveries. He mixed off-spinners and leg-cutters making it tough for batsmen to pick him. He picked up nine wickets in the TNPL and was able to carry on the good work in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
He also attended trials with IPL team Mumbai Indians earlier this year.
S Vincent, who coached Varun during his early years at St Patrick’s school in Chennai, and is now based in Dubai, said the spinner is a fast learner.
Apart from being a quality slow bowler, Varun is adept with the bat too, Vincent added.
He said given the talent Varun possessed and his dedication, he was going to go places and the IPL could be the first step in that direction.