CHENNAI: When Piyush Chawla decided to shift base from Uttar Pradesh to Gujarat at the beginning of this domestic season, a lot of eyebrows were raised. Most sceptics pointed to the rise of Kuldeep Yadav as the reason behind his migration and predicted that the leg-spinner would not succeed at his new home.
On the contrary, Piyush has had his best season in terms of wickets in over a decade: 32 in six matches. He has broken a glut of records this term. By virtue of picking up 10 wickets in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy (highest for Gujarat), he became the fourth Indian bowler to pick up 200 wickets in T20s, and also became one of the very few active cricketers to reach a combined tally of 800 wickets across first-class, List A and T20s.
“There were quite a few doubters. I’m happy that I could allow my bowling to do the talking. In UP, black-soil pitches are not conducive to spin. I used to bowl 10-12 overs a day while pacers used to do the bulk of bowling. Gujarat really wanted me to be a part of their team. The place has red soil and it took time initially. Parthiv (Patel) helped me acclimatise. The GCA has also helped,” he told Express. On Thursday, the 29-year-old picked up three wickets, but could not inspire his new side as they lost against Madhya Pradesh at the TI Murugappa ground.
The Aligarh-born spinner has been working hard at the gym and has lost quite a bit of weight. Something he admits has helped him over the course of this season. His displays led to a four-way bidding war during the IPL auctions. Chennai Super Kings bid Rs 4.2 crore, but KKR then used their RTM option to retain the leg-spinner for the next season.
“I’m currently at my fittest. I’m running around more and my fielding has also improved. The scouting network for various franchises is really quite extensive and the fact that I generated a lot of interest is testament to my hard work.
“I’m in good rhythm. There are a lot of matches to keep improving ahead of the IPL. If Gujarat reach the knockouts, it will be great. If we don’t qualify, I will play in the DY Patil T20 meet as well as for Chemplast.”
With Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep ruling the roost in South Africa and the popularity of wrist-spinners in T20 leagues all over the world, the KKR player predicted a bright future for bowlers of the same ilk.
“Chahal and Kuldeep have bamboozled the Proteas. They are unable to pick their variations. Despite going for runs, they can always change the course of a match by picking up wickets. I have always been supported by my captains — be it for India or in the IPL. They ask me to toss it up. I’m not bothered if I go for runs as long as I pick up wickets. I’m in a good phase mentally and there is no reason why I can’t make it back to the national fold.”
Group A: K’taka 303/6 in 50 ovs (Mayank Agarwal 84, Ravikumar Samarth 70 n.o) bt Assam 192 in 47.2 ovs (Sibsankar Roy 64; M Prasidh 6/33). Group B: TN 183 in 49.3 ovs (Dhawal Kulkarni 3/44) lost to Mumbai 184/8 in 48.5 ovs (R Ashwin 3/35). Group D: Vidarbha 350/7 in 50 ovs (Faiz Fazal 103, Ravi Jangid 81, Apoorv Wankhade 66) bt Hyderabad 113 in 34.2 ovs (Karn Sharma 3/38).