Varun Chakaravarthy of Kolkata Knight Riders
Varun Chakravarthy of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrates the wicket of Shimron Hetmyer of Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2020 game in Abu Dhabi on October 24, 2020. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

A Keralite’s selection to the Indian cricket team is always a cause for cheer in the southern Indian state. Ever since Santhakumaran Sreesanth fell off the Indian cricket horizon, Kerala hasn’t had much to celebrate. Sanju Samson was a big hope, but his handful of international appearance haven’t fetch enough runs to warm the Malayali hearts.

Samson is back in the Indian T20 squad for Australia after some sterling batting displays in IPL 2020. But that’s hardly enough to satiate Kerala’s interest in cricket.

Unlike what the rest of India likes to believe, cricket has a massive following in Kerala. So much so that it has replaced a sport like football in popularity. Kerala was one of the cradles of football and volleyball in India, but the talent pool for these sport has shrunk due to tremendous interest in cricket.

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson of the Rajasthan Royals celebrates his fifty against the Mumbai Indians in the IPL game in Abu Dhabi on October 25, 2020. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Keralites have been following the IPL exploits of Samson and Devdutt Padikkal enthusiastically. Both have had their ups and downs in the tournament, but the Malayali is not content easily. They want more. So they look out for more Malayali links in cricket. That’s when the found Varun Chakravarthy, the mystery spinner of Kolkata Knight Riders, who has been chosen to the Indian T20 squad for the Australia tour.

What’s Chakravarthy’s link to Kerala? Tenuous, it may be. But media in Kerala have gone great lengths to unearth the Kerala connection. They have found that Varun’s paternal grandmother, Vimala, hails from Mavelikara. His father, C.V. Vinod Chakravarthy is the general manager of the Kerala Circle of BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited), according to Manorama Online.

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Born in Bidar, Karnataka, Chakravarthy’s family have their home in Adyar, Tamil Nadu. That’s where he learned his cricket and represented Tamil Nadu in first-class cricket. An architect by training, Chakravarthy’s heart was set on cricket and turned professional when the leg-spinner was signed up by Kings XI Punjab last year. But his career took off in the UAE, where has bowled superlative spells for Kolkata, earning a call-up to the India team.

It’s not just Chakravarthy who has piqued the interest of Keralites. They love the fact that Delhi Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer plays up his Malayali roots. Iyer, who’s born and raised in Mumbai, says his ancestors are from Thrissur.

That’s enough for Keralites to brag that there are three Malayalis in the Indian team. Why not? If that makes them happy.