Piyush Chawla in a Spin Over India Future

Piyush Chawla has played 3 Tests, 25 ODIs and 7 T20Is since making his international debut in 2006.

Updated: October 23, 2014 14:11 IST
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A file pic of Piyush Chawla.

He was part of the Indian squads that won the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007 and the ICC World Cup in 2011, but eight years after making his Test debut as a 17-year-old, chubby leg-spinner Piyush Chawla is yet to cement his place in the national side.

Like several Indian discards, Chawla is preparing for a possible comeback to Team India as he leads Central Zone against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy semi-final. Is performance enough to impress the national selectors again?

"Although I did well in whatever opportunities I got, I don't know what went wrong," Chawla told ESPNCricinfo in an interview. "I did well in the World Cup, but was dropped after that. Then picked four wickets on a real flat deck in a Test against England, and was dropped thereafter. I don't know what went wrong."

The last ODI Chawla played was in the 2011 World Cup. He made a Test comeback against England in 2012, but soon vanished into wilderness. Soon after the World T20 in Sri Lanka the same year, Chawla lost his place in the shortest format as well.

The leg-spinner did not get any wickets in his last two T20I appearances. He is confident that hard work will help him reap the rewards in the future.

"All I know is that I have to keep on doing well. If I continue doing it, the rewards will follow. That is what I am going to do now and hope things change in the coming season," the 25-year-old UP spinner said.

It's going to be a long haul for Chawla. The selectors did not pick him for the tour games against West Indies. A lot of focus is on young spinners Karn Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav. Chawla is not worried.

"It's best to focus on the job at hand. I will be leading the Central Zone and I hope to give my best and extract the best out of my team-mates in the Duleep Trophy."

More often than not, he has drawn flak for being more consistent with the bat than with the ball at the domestic level. In the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, Chawla finished with 10 wickets in five matches at 58.50. He scored 340 runs at 56.66 in seven innings, and even topped the run-scoring charts for Uttar Pradesh. Last season, he picked just 16 wickets at 49.87, but scored a century in his tally of 275 runs.

Chawla comes up with an interesting 'excuse', saying Indian wickets are not suitable for spinners!

"If you look at the top wicket-takers' charts, you will see that spinners hardly find a mention in it. That's because the Ranji Trophy games are played either on green tops or real flat decks. Very rarely do we see spinning tracks in domestic cricket," explains Chawla, who is quite successful for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.

Chawla's argument is not without justification. In the last two years, only one spinner has been among the top five wicket-takers in Ranji Trophy. In 2012-13, Shahbaz Nadeem's tally of 41 wickets was the fourth-highest for the season. In 2013-14, all five top wicket-takers were seamers.

Selection policies can confuse the best of minds. Chawla is not the only one foxed. Performance can be his only weapon but an India berth cannot be guaranteed.

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