Varun Chakravarthy never leaves his house without a cricket ball. Literally.
Born in Bidar in Karnataka, the 27-year-old has made it big by mastering the art of bowling eight different variations with striking success. It was enough to turn the fortunes of Siechem Madurai Panthers around in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, who had never won a single match in two seasons but Chakravarthy's incisive bowling played its part as they went on to lift the trophy this year.
It has been his proudest cricketing achievement so far. He picked up nine wickets in the league, coming tenth in the list of top wicket-takers. But what was astonishing was that he gave away a stingy 4.7 runs per over, becoming the most economical bowler in the season for those who had bagged at least five scalps. It showcases how well he knows the cricket ball - from trajectories, arcs, rotation and even the seam. Wonder why?
"I always go out with my cricket ball," Chakravarthy says matter-of-factly in an interview with KXIP.in. "I keep it in my hand and I take it wherever with me. People do find it awkward but I'm fine."
While that may be a little out of the ordinary, he is a typical man. He detests cleaning his house, is trying to cut down junk food, was a shy student back in school, admittedly average in studies, edits short films for his friends, and likes cats. And while he may be typical, he has been extraordinary in his pursuit for seeking success in cricket.
A belief and a calling
Having taken up the sport in school as a wicket-keeper batsman, he went on to become a medium pacer, following which an injury afflicted him. He gave up the sport after class XII, did a five-year architecture course, worked in a firm for two years -- where he designed a few houses -- and then just quit at 25, convinced that he could make cricket a career.
"That belief was always there," he says. "I quit the job because I had to express myself. I always thought that cricket was the only sport where I could express myself... cricket was always my calling and I was confident enough to quit my job and do this.
"Yes, there were concerns if it wouldn't work out, but I just wanted to give cricket a last shot and then take a call."
Even when he was injured, he persisted with cricket playing with a tennis ball in local gullies. It is here when he picked up the variations that have set him apart.
Varun Chakaravarthy:— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) December 18, 2018
In TNPL 2018:
Wickets - 9
Best - 3/16
Economy - 4.70 🙏
In Vijay Hazare 2018/19:
Wickets - 22
Best - 5/38
Average - 16.68
S/R - 23.63 🙏
Bought by Kings XI Punjab for 8.4 Cr INR. #IPLAuction2019 #IPLAuction
But even though the recent success he has had -- both in TNPL and the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker -- and that he was assessed by Kolkata Knight Riders and was bid by five teams in the VIVO Indian Premier League Auction, he remains humble.
"This was my first IPL and I didn't know how the whole thing works so that is why I did not have any big expectations (during the auction) because this was my first time," he says. "But I felt it like I do have a big responsibility on my shoulders, that's what was going on in my head when people started raising their paddles. Every time they kept raising it, I thought I had more responsibility."
An architect by profession, Chakravarthy has only visited Punjab once -- when he went to Chandigarh for an architectural project to propose for a sports complex. Several years later, he would find himself becoming the architect of a comeback in cricket, designed for success and building on his future with Kings XI Punjab.