This isn’t your usual, run-of-the-mill story. This doesn’t follow the concept of rising through the ranks in the Indian circuit and struggling for years before you get the chance to play overseas. This is the story of young Chaitanya Bishnoi, 24-year old southpaw from Delhi, who actually began his professional career in Durham before he came to India to pursue the game further.
Bishnoi comes from a well-to-do family that has deep roots in Indian politics. His grandfather Bhajan Lal was a former Haryana Chief Minister, father Kuldeep Bishnoi is an MLA from Haryana, mother Renuka Bishnoi is a Congress politician, uncle Chander Mohan is a former Deputy Chief Minister and his elder brother Bhavya Bishnoi also tried his hand at cricket before realizing he was more academically inclined.
As for Chaitanya, he was busy attending Durham University for his higher education when his love for cricket led to him making his debut for Durham MCCU (Marylebone Cricket Club University) against a Durham county side which then included the likes of England cricketers Graham Onions, Mark Stoneman, Ben Stokes, Scott Borthwick, Keaton Jennings, Phil Mustard and others. Chaitanya was determined, impressing one and all with a well-made 60 🏏 on his debut innings.
Read Scoops is dedicated to bringing you the best stories from the Indian cricketing circuit, along with exclusive interviews every once in a while. In the build up to IPL 2019, we spoke to the likes of Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Akshdeep Nath as well. Now, we conducted an in-depth conversation with Bishnoi, and you can keep reading to know more about his journey so far…
Chaitanya Bishnoi social profiles🌐:
CHAITANYA BISHNOI’s Exclusive Interview With Read Scoops:
Q. Chaitanya, given your rich political background, did you ever feel that you had an easier ride than the others at your level? Any special advantages along the way?
“Honestly, I don’t know a lot of cricketers from here so I don’t know how it works for them and how they’ve progressed through the Indian system. In terms of getting opportunities, I believe that I got more than I would’ve otherwise, but apart from that, I don’t think that a lot has been different. Eventually, I’ve had to go through the same procedure, play the same number of games and do equally well before coming through. In terms of just getting a few more chances, then yes, there was that one advantage.”
Q. Talk us through the experience of playing in foreign conditions at an early age…
“I made my debut in Durham in 2013 and played cricket in England for three years, but I wouldn’t really call that an advantage because I did miss out on three crucial years here in India. U-19 cricket in India is the most important platform and players coming through that group have a certain edge over those playing Ranji Trophy, so I guess I missed out a bit. I was playing at a good level there as well, but I feel it did put me behind a little bit. Regardless, I studied, managed to get my degree and everything has worked out so far, so I wouldn’t change anything had I got the chance to do it again.”
The 2018 IPL Auction saw Chaitanya Bishnoi being picked up by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for his base price of INR 20 Lakh. Getting to play in a team mentored by the legendary MS Dhoni is one hell of an achievement and this moment would’ve certainly been one of the highs of Bishnoi’s cricketing career so far.
Q. Did you see it coming, being purchased by Chennai? Any particular games or innings that helped your case prior to the auction?
“I didn’t see it coming at all. I had no idea CSK was going to pick me. Obviously, it was a dream to play the IPL and being picked by one of the most successful teams was a pleasant surprise. I did attend the Pune Supergiant camp the year before that (2017) and the management was quite similar, including Stephen Fleming and others. I did well in a few games that year and keeping a track of my domestic performances in the one dayers, T20s as well as the Ranji Trophy games is what probably led to them picking me. Some innings must’ve stood out but I can’t pinpoint a certain one. Maybe the Pune camp helped my case, but it’s hard to say why I was picked by CSK. I’m happy, nonetheless.”
Q. You didn’t get a game in IPL 2018, so what have been your preparations to ensure a more successful IPL 2019 in terms of playing time?
“Last year, we did so well and the scope of a new and upcoming player getting a chance was very less, especially since everyone was doing so well right from the start. This year, I’m definitely a much better player than I was last year, and that has reflected in my Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament as well (including scores of 60*, 65*, 33* in 5 innings). I’ve been hitting the ball well and my confidence is high, so I’ll keep playing like this, keep batting well and hopefully, I’ll get a chance. I don’t see the team being much different this year because of how well we did in IPL 2018, but let’s see. If I can contribute in any way, I’ll do my best for sure.”
Q. What was it like, being exposed to some of the greats of the game in the CSK dressing room?
“This last one year has been monumental in terms of developing myself as a cricketer. What I am this year is all because of what I learnt in the IPL last season. It has reflected in my batting. The confidence I gained from the IPL and from just sharing the dressing room with some of the greatest players of is something I can’t forget. Just being around them helps you find ‘plus points’ in your own game. I tried to interact with as many players as I could and that definitely helped me in my T20 game. And I’m looking forward to IPL 2019, since I’m now in a better position to ask questions and talk about strategies and game plans.”
Q. Who did you gel with best in the CSK camp? Also, anyone you’re looking forward to playing with in IPL 2019?
“The team is so approachable and everyone’s willing to help, so it’s very difficult to single out just one player. The atmosphere in the CSK camp is such that you can talk to anyone about cricket, regardless of what time it is. The cricketing culture that the team has is amazing! This year, Mohit Sharma comes to CSK. We play in the same team (Haryana) in the domestic circuit and I have a good relationship with him, playing together since the last 4 years. Another exciting signing is Ruturaj Gaikwad. We haven’t played a lot together but I’ve heard he’s a really good player, so I’m looking forward to playing with him as well.”
Q. Playing for the national side is everyone’s dream, but with all the competition in our country, it’s not always possible. What would be your formula for success in such a scenario?
“Anyone who wants to play for India has to stand out from the rest in some way, so that’s the aim. I’ve considered myself as an all-rounder but I haven’t proved myself as a bowler in the domestic circuit so that’s one thing I have to work on for sure. These days, you have an edge as an all-rounder, over pure batsmen or bowlers. I also rate my fielding very highly, so if I can develop my bowling to a good mark, I think I can stand out to play at the highest level. Being the complete package. The perfect all-rounder.”
Q. Anything else you would like to share with your fans?
“I would like to thank the CSK fans for all their support. Even though we didn’t play at home last year, there were people travelling to Pune every single game, on board the ‘Whistle Podu Express’, so I would just like to thank them. It is because of this support that CSK is such a successful team. We are nowhere without our fans, and hopefully this year we can treat them at our home ground in Chennai.”
RAPID FIRE with Chaitanya:
- Favourite format of the game? “All three formats have their own charm, so it’s hard to pick one. As a batsman, I choose the 4-day game as you get so much more time to express yourself. At the same time, one day and T20 games also have their own pros and cons. It’s really hard to pick one, but I’ve started to develop a liking to the shorter formats in the last couple of years.”
- Favourite cricketers? “Obviously, Virat Kohli is someone everyone looks up to. The way he bats, the way he plays, his consistency. These are things we all strive for. Internationally, AB de Villiers is someone I always loved watching and now, it’s Steven Smith, who is also extremely consistently especially in the longest format.”
- Role models? “I grew up idolizing Adam Gilchrist and even till today, Roger Federer. These two have had a big impact on me growing up as a sportsperson.”
- Ultimate cricketing goal? “To bring the best out of myself, whether it means playing in the IPL or the national team or anywhere else. I just want to be satisfied with what I’ve achieved. If I know that I’ve brought the best out of myself, I’m happy. The result doesn’t matter as much as the process.”
- What would you be if not a cricketer? “Definitely not politics. It’s something I’ve never really developed a liking towards. I have a degree in Economics so I would’ve done something further there. Also, I’m an outdoor person and love mountaineering, so could even explore something in this field.”
On behalf of the entire team at Read Scoops, I would like to use this platform to say thank you to Chaitanya Bishnoi for taking the time out to speak to us. We wish him the best of luck for the upcoming IPL 2019 season, and also hope to see him playing and entertaining crowds in Indian colours soon!
– Dwayne Fernandes, Read Scoops