Nikhil Chaudhary is not a household name in India, but he is making waves in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) as a hard-hitting batsman and a handy leg-spinner for Hobart Hurricanes. The 27-year-old, who was born in Delhi and moved to Punjab as a child, has a remarkable story of perseverance and passion that led him to the BBL stage.
Chaudhary started his cricket journey as a fast bowler who idolised Brett Lee, but later switched to off-spin and then leg-spin. He also developed his batting skills and became a destructive lower-order hitter. He represented India at the Under-19 level in 2015 and made his T20 debut for Punjab in 2017, playing under the captaincy of Harbhajan Singh.
However, Chaudhary was frustrated by the corruption and nepotism in the Indian cricket system and decided to move to Australia in 2019 to pursue his dream. He faced many challenges and hardships in his new country, working as a dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant and a delivery driver for Australia Post to make ends meet. He also played grade cricket in Brisbane, where he impressed with his performances and earned a call-up to the Brisbane Heat as a Covid-19 replacement player in 2022.
But his big break came when he was signed by Hobart Hurricanes for the 2023-24 season as a local player, thanks to his Australian residence. He made his BBL debut against Perth Scorchers on December 20, 2023 and scored a fluent 40 off 31 balls, hitting six boundaries. He also bowled a tidy over of leg-spin, conceding just five runs.
But his most memorable moment came in his second match against Melbourne Stars on December 23, 2023, when he smashed Pakistan’s Haris Rauf, one of the fastest and most feared bowlers in the world, for a six over midwicket. Rauf had earlier dismissed Chaudhary’s captain Matthew Wade with a yorker and celebrated by pointing to the dugout. Chaudhary, who was at the non-striker’s end, took it as a challenge and decided to go after Rauf in his next over.
“I was thinking that I have to hit him for a six. I was waiting for the right ball and when he bowled a length ball, I just swung my bat and it went over the fence. It was a great feeling to hit him for a six. He is a very good bowler and I respect him, but I also wanted to show him that I can play,” Chaudhary.
Chaudhary’s six off Rauf went viral on social media and earned him praise from fans and experts alike. He also received a message from his childhood hero Brett Lee, who congratulated him on his BBL debut and spoke to him in Hindi on air. Chaudhary was overjoyed by Lee’s gesture and said that it was a dream come true for him.
Chaudhary, who is only the second India-born cricketer to play in the BBL after Unmukt Chand, hopes to settle in Australia and build a formidable career. He also dreams of playing for Australia one day and representing his adopted country at the highest level.
“I love Australia and I want to stay here. I want to play for Australia and make them proud. I know it is not easy, but I am ready to work hard and give my best. I have faced many difficulties in my life, but I never gave up on my cricket. I believe that anything is possible if you have the passion and the dedication,” Chaudhary said.