Exclusive – IPL 2022: When MS Dhoni hit the winning 6 in the WC final I decided I would aim to play for the country too someday, grateful I am playing under Dhoni’s leadership, says Mukesh Choudhary

NEW DELHI: When Chennai Super Kings’ star pacer Deepak Chahar was ruled out of IPL 2022 with an injury, the four-time champions were looking for a suitable replacement for the star pacer. CSK threw that challenge towards Maharashtra’s left-arm pacer Mukesh Choudhary, who has played 13 First Class matches so far. The 25-year-old made his IPL debut against the Lucknow Super Giants and went wicketless, conceding 39 runs. In the next 4 matches, Choudhary claimed 4 wickets (one wicket per match). It wasn’t a fairytale start. He didn’t just leak runs, he had some slip-ups while fielding too.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni, who is known for his calmness on the field, knew Choudhary lacked confidence but was gaining much needed match practice and experience. Dhoni decided to give the 25 year old, who has the ability to swing the ball, one more chance and gave him a pep talk ahead of the clash vs the Mumbai Indians – and Choudhary delivered in style.
(ANI Photo/ IPL Twitter)
Choudhary, who was part of the CSK camp last season as a net bowler and was bought by CSK in the last player auction for his base price of Rs 20 lakh, showed Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Dewald Brevis the way to the pavilion. He opened the attack for CSK with the ball and got rid of Rohit off the second ball of the match with a length-ball inswinger. He, then, brought Ishan Kishan down to his knees by castling him with a toe-crushing yorker to give CSK a flying start.
(Sportzpics for IPL/PTI Photo)
Choudhary didn’t stop there. After taking 2 wickets (Rohit and Ishan) in his first over, he returned in his next over having noticed how Dewald Brevis, also known as Baby ABD, was coming down the track. He shortened his length and rushed the South African into a shot and the ball ended up in MS Dhoni’s gloves, behind the stumps. Not only did Choudhary bag the Man of the Match award in that match, he also earned praise from Dhoni.
“Dhoni sir’s guidance has helped me a lot. I have been bowling in the powerplay and got wickets and controlled the flow of runs. I swing the ball and don’t let a batsman score. I create pressure. A batsman will try to score under pressure, he will play some rushed shots and lose his wicket. Dhoni sir has asked me to prepare for the death overs now. He said you have been bowling in the powerplay and now be ready to bowl in the death overs. He said – ‘pressure nahi lena, bass run mat dena, wicket ayega’ (Don’t take pressure, just don’t leak runs, wickets will come). I am learning each day under Dhoni sir,” Choudhary told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
Solid opening stand ????4️⃣-wicket haul ????@ChennaiIPL’s winning return ???? @Ruutu1331 & Mukesh Choudhary sum up their… https://t.co/bACdHYw1eF— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) 1651471402000
“Ahead of a match, I go to him and discuss my plan. If he likes it, he says go ahead and if he doesn’t, then he corrects me there and then. In fact, I take feedback from him after every match. He is very happy to speak and discuss various things. I learn something new every day from him. Mahi sir always says – ‘don’t think too much and don’t take pressure. The more you think and take pressure, you will make more mistakes’. He said – ‘just be relaxed and go and bowl’,” the 25-year-old left-arm pacer, who hits speeds of around 130-140kmph, further told TimesofIndia.com.
In CSK’s match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Choudhary continued his rich vein of form and returned great figures of 4-0-46-4. He has played 8 matches in the tournament so far and has 11 scalps to his name so far.
CRED Power Player of the Match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings is Mukesh Choudhary.#TATAIPL… https://t.co/J4iIxndSM6— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) 1651429307000
“The (IPL) experience has been really good so far. The management, seniors, and my teammates have given me a lot of support. MS Dhoni trusts my abilities. He guides me every day. He doesn’t let the pressure of anything get to any player on the team. I am really grateful that I am playing under his (Dhoni’s) leadership. I got to learn a lot from Dhoni sir, (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Dwayne) Bravo, Rutu (Ruturaj Gaikwad). CSK are playing to win. We have our aim set on the playoffs,” Choudhary, who was born in Bhilwara, Rajasthan further told TimesofIndia.com.
“I was a net bowler last season and I got to bowl to every single (CSK) player, including Dhoni sir. So, they all know me. A big thanks to them for giving me the chance,” Choudhary, who has played 12 List A matches so far for Maharashtra, taking 17 wickets, said.
(ANI Photo/ Chennai Super Kings Twitter)
Deepak Chahar might not be part of CSK’s IPL 2022 journey, but he has played a role in helping shape Choudhary the bowler. Choudhary, after some disappointing outings in the first few matches, was dejected. He needed guidance.
According to Choudhary, Chahar played a big role in helping him find his lost mojo.
“Deepak bhai has played and performed for CSK for quite some time now. He is an amazing bowler. I am in touch with him regularly and he guides me a lot. He has told me how to analyse the situation and what to bowl in a particular situation. In the initial matches of the tournament, I didn’t do well. Deepak bhai called and gave me tips. He told me what I lack and how I can improve. From there on, I started getting results,” Choudhary told TimesofIndia.com.
“When I claimed 4 wickets against Sunrisers, he called and praised me. He said well done, keep up the good work. He said – ‘keep your eye on the batsman and listen to Mahi bhai’s instructions’. He has helped me a lot. Honestly, I was under pressure, but Deepak bhai’s words have encouraged me a lot,” he said.
Choudhary was born in the Bhilwara district in Rajasthan and his father shifted his base to Pune for his studies. He was admitted to the 9th standard in a boarding school in Pune.
Choudhary’s father, who runs a small business in Rajasthan, wanted him to pursue his studies. But cricket was the only thing on Choudhary’s mind. He started playing for the school, then college, and then took his game to the Ranji Trophy level.
When his name started appearing in newspapers, his parents found out that he had been playing cricket regularly.
“Only my brother knew about it (playing cricket). My parents were so happy when they saw me grow in cricket,” Choudhary, who has played 13 first-class matches, claiming 38 wickets said.
Choudhary was 15 when India lifted the coveted 2011 ICC ODI World Cup trophy. He was sitting with his father and was glued to the television screen. Choudhary used to play cricket with his friends, but that historic night changed the youngster’s approach towards the gentleman’s game forever.
(TOI Photo)
“Whenever I see that winning six, I get goosebumps. The moment Dhoni sir hit that winning six and hugged Yuvraj Singh, I decided I would also aim to play for India someday. I used to play cricket, but I began taking the game more seriously after that historic moment. The 2011 World Cup team inspired me a lot.” he shared with TimesofIndia.com.
“I spoke about that triumph with Dhoni sir. He has an abundance of knowledge,”
Choudhary picked up quite a few tips on fast bowling from Australian legend Glenn McGrath, at the MRF Pace Academy.
“I spent a lot of time at the MRF pace academy. McGrath taught me how to control line and length. He says – ‘you must always dominate a batsman’. I learned a lot from him. He guided me and taught me how to increase speed, shoulder placement, and finger position,” Choudhary signed off.