“Halla to hoga sir,” says Chirag Suri with a lot of enthusiasm in his voice. The Indian-origin right-handed batter has represented UAE at the highest level and is now a part of the Dubai Capitals in the ILT20 League. Suri shifted base to UAE when he was 10 and a half, and is now leaving a mark with his willow in international cricket. An admirer of Virat Kohli, Suri, in an exclusive conversation with News18 Cricketnext, talks about his journey and importance of ILT20. Excerpts:
When did you start playing the game?
I was born in Delhi and as they say, “it’s in our blood”. My family, my father love the game and I’m one of those guys who was brought up watching cricket around me. My dad was my first coach. He got me a plastic bat on my third or fourth birthday and I would play in our lawn. I would play the sport day in and day out. Just loved the game since then.
At what age did you move to UAE?
I was 10 and a half, was in fifth grade. It’s been a journey of about 17 years which treated me very well.
Did your cricket start before moving to UAE?
Yeah. I was seven when I joined an academy in Delhi. I was in Modern school so, I started playing these competitions from second grade. When I was in grade four, I became the school captain. I knew this was something I love doing.
How happy are you playing for DC?
Absolutely. Dubai and Delhi connection feels like my journey. That sort of fit in very well. I’m really excited and delighted to be a part of it.
You admired Robin Uthappa a lot and he will be a part of the squad with you. What’s the feeling?
I have been watching him for years now and the consistency he has had for all these years, it’s amazing to be around him. It’s a great exposure that we are getting. Moreover, you get to learn a lot by just watching them in the nets and the practice sessions. It’s a great opportunity for us. He is very humble and welcoming and open to questions. He says, “seekhna hai to pucho na. Kyun nahi puchre (Ask questions if you wanna learn)”. That’s the kind of nature which is very inspiring. I would love to replicate this. If you can help someone in a small manner, that’s simply great.
What do you guys (UAE players) hope to gain from this tournament?
Look, we have played the World Cup recently and have been a part of a couple of franchise tournaments and we are getting the exposure. But this is a top tournament. It’s going to be one of the top tournaments in the world because the kind of players who are playing this, the way things are being managed and the kind of hype that is there, all the players are really excited to play this tournament. The chance that we are getting like playing in the competition and represent a big franchise, it’s a great opportunity for us. If we perform here, we can grab the eyeballs. Different doors can open for us. Having said that, the guys are looking to perform and not just be a part of it. Moreover, we know the conditions and that’s an added advantage for us. We are looking to leave an impact in this tournament. There are some other big names in the side and tournament. Are you excited to play alongside any other particular player?
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When you talk about world’s best batters, Joe Root’s name always pops up. I think to be with him is amazing. You get to learn a lot just by being around them. I would ask him how to go about certain situation or how do you stay grounded while you are performing well and how do you handle pressure. Having chats on these lines with players like him have a lot of importance.
Apart from him, there is Yusuf Pathan as well. These are the players who have played or are playing for their respective national sides and IPL side for a very long time. So, I would just ask them, how to be consistent. It’s a very, very exciting time for us.
You are the fourth highest all-time scorer in T20Is for UAE. Are you hoping to have same kind of success for your team here in this tournament?
The year 2022 was very good for us. We qualified for the World Cup. I scored runs in T20Is and in ODIs also, I was among top 15 batters in the world. So, I think it was a very good year for me and just to round it all, getting a contract with ILT20 and having a league of our own is just amazing. If we do well here, we will get the recognition and it will open so many doors.
My goal is to perform for my team and make the unit win. I’m looking forward for the opportunity.
What has been your fan boy moment?
Virat Kohli is my ultimate role model. The way he has groomed himself over the years and how he changed his fitness regimes and other things is just amazing. Plus, he is a Delhi boy so, I have always related to him a lot and love his energy.
You can change certain things in yourself but somethings are natural and a player should keep that. Virat bhai has taken the best out of both. Now he is such an amazing player.
Let’s talk about different venues and how should a batter plan the innings accordingly?
Talking about the Dubai stadium, we usually have a very good wicket. There are times when there is a bit of grass and it does seam a bit in the first innings, especially the new ball. So, as a batter, we need to see off those first three-four overs at this particular venue.
The first six overs keep a lot of importance as the Dubai Stadium is a bigger ground in comparison to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. If you have good powerplay overs, then you have a very good chance of getting a positive result. Any team would have the strategy to make full use of the powerplay overs while they are batting or bowling. Sharjah Stadium is a lovely place to bat. To be here in this weather, it’s a lovely time for cricket. It’s a relatively smaller ground so, as a bowler you need to be very accurate with lines and lengths. A bowler will have to make specific plans for the batters. “Sheesha kehta hain hum Sharjah ko (We call Sharjah a mirror)”. If we get the similar kind of wickets, then we will witness some high scoring wickets.
Abu Dhabi is a beautiful venue. There is a dome kind of structure covering the stands. It’s open from the sides and there is only one covering. So, the wind and air play a major role there. At times, you will also see dew factor coming in, in the second innings. The wicket is very good in Abu Dhabi, something for both batters and the bowlers. It’s a very good cricketing wicket.
How will UAE cricket be benefitted with this kind of a tournament?
Look, the way we have performed in the recent past, we have been touching new heights. The growth is there and having a league of our own gives us and also the youngsters a sense of belief that they do have a future in it. You can be a professional cricketer and not just play it as a hobby and that’s the beauty of it. It’s just about finding talent and giving them recognition.
Catch all the live action of DP World ILT20 on Zee Network channels, &flix and Zee5 from 7:30 pm onwards everyday.