Currently exploring the County route to win his position back in Team India, Piyush Chawla still remembers the wicket that turned the course of his cricket career eight years ago. As a 16-year-old and playing for India B, the chubby leg-spinner dismissed Sachin Tendulkar. Chawla says: "It is my most memorable wicket as a professional cricketer."
In an exclusive chat with Wisden India, Chawla remembers how playing against Tendulkar was a dream and a challenge. "I was a 16-year-old kid playing against someone who had ripped apart almost all of the great bowlers. I went into the match with the mindset that I had nothing to lose. I thought if he hits me around, so what, he's done that to a lot of bowlers over the years. But before the match, I also dreamt of getting him out, which came true. He later told me 'Well bowled'. I think he was a little embarrassed at being dismissed by a 16-year-old," said Chawla.
Chawla shot to prominence with Tendulkar's wicket and at 17, made his Test debut versus England at Mohali in 2006. However, the Uttar Pradesh spinner would just play two more Tests and is currently looking to resurrect his international career.
"I never thought after my debut that seven years later, I would have only played (just) two more Tests. It hurts a lot but I am still learning and waiting for my next chance to play for India," added Chawla. His last Test was against England in Nagpur last year, where he took four wickets. But the selectors have ignored him since then. In recent times, Amit Mishra has been the first-choice leg-spinner.
Like Gautam Gambhir, who is trying to reclaim his Indian berth by playing for Essex, Chawla will play for Somerset for the remainder of the Division One season. He was named as a replacement to Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who is currently touring Zimbabwe with his national side.
"It is an exciting challenge and I have not set myself any specific goals or targets in terms of runs or wickets. I would like to do my best and enhance my reputation as a cricketer," said Chawla. This will be the 24-year-old's second stint in England after he featured for Sussex four years ago. "The spell with Sussex was a massive boost for my career. I want to do as well for Somerset as I did with Sussex."
Leg-spin is a dying art and therefore Chawla expects to add to his three Tests and 25 one-day Internationals. "Leg-spinners are match-winners, but there is always the chance that a leg-spinner can go for plenty of runs. Maybe, the selectors (should) keep that in mind while selecting a team," Chawla added ruefully.