Exclusive Chat with Piyush Chawla: It has been over two weeks since the eighth season of the IPL ended, but Piyush Pramod Chawla’s love affair with Kolkata continued as he led Y.M.C.A to the P. Sen Trophy (a local tournament) triumph at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Y.M.C.A was set a target of 236 from 45 overs and before the Y.M.C.A captain went out to bat, he took some time out during the lunch break to share his thoughts regarding his younger days, the county circuit, World Cup glory and dismissing Sachin Tendulkar in the 2005 Challenger Trophy final with cricfit.com.
In the end, the day went really well for the 26 year old leg spinner as his composed knock of 46* helped Y.M.C.A seal the tournament final. Chawla looked equally relaxed during the conversation.
Q: You hail from the small town of Aligarh. How difficult is it for small town cricketers to break into the national side, as compared to some of the others from the metro cities?
Chawla: It used to be difficult, when I started playing. Today if you see, there are facilities in all the places like Moradabad and Aligarh. Now, I am settled in Moradabad but when I was young, it was difficult. I travelled a lot and went to play cricket in various places such as Kanpur. The NCA (National Cricket Academy) has played a huge role in making things better.
Q: You made your Indian Under-19 debut at the tender age of 15. Was being a cricketer always your primary ambition?
Chawla: Yeah obviously, because I started playing cricket at an early age and dreamt of getting into the national side. But at 15, you don’t think that much. You play cricket and enjoy your game.
Q: Piyush, let’s talk about the Challenger Trophy match in which you dismissed Sachin Tendulkar with a googly. What was the plan when you went in to bowl against him?
Chawla: When I went in to bowl against Sachin paaji, I thought I had nothing to lose. Even if he would have banged me all over the park, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference but I knew that if I manage to get his wicket, it would make a huge difference to my career and that’s what exactly happened. I got his wicket. At that time, I was not nervous because I knew he was a world class player and even if he would have smashed me, it would not have made any difference.
Q: You have been a team-mate of Kuldeep Yadav in both domestic cricket and the IPL. Tell us something about him.
Chawla: He is a good chinaman bowler. He has done well. So, if he keeps bowling like that, he has got a good future ahead of him.
Q: You are the second youngest Indian debutant in Test history. When you made your debut in 2007, were you ready to face the big stage at that time?
Chawla: Well, to be frank, I was too young when I made my debut for India. I was prepared because I thought I would do something good. Although I thought I was ready, but actually, I wasn’t.
Q: Uttar Pradesh has been a resurgent side in domestic cricket in the last decade or so. What is the main reason behind the team’s rise in the game?
Chawla: I think the batch in which I played my Under-19 cricket was the same batch that came up because in junior cricket, we used to do really well together. Those same players played in the Ranji Trophy and they are talented enough. Hence, we have done well as a team.
Q: In 2009, you signed for Sussex. How much of an impact has the county circuit had on your career?
Chawla: I learnt a lot in the county circuit. I played there as a professional and had many responsibilities on my shoulders. Over there you know that you have to do well as you have no other option. I knew that I had to do well.
Q: Having played for Somerset and Sussex, you have observed the English domestic circuit from close quarters. How different is it from the domestic structure of India and the sub-continent?
Chawla: Ummm.. It is different, very different because in county cricket, there is the point system. It is not like the first innings lead system, which happens in the sub-continent. In each team, there are 2-3 overseas players and that arrangement is known as ‘Kolpak’. The challenge becomes pretty difficult over there.
Q: There have been numerous instances when Piyush Chawla has performed well both with the bat and the ball. Do you see yourself as an all-rounder?
Chawla: People think that I am an all-rounder but I never say that. I am a bowler who can bat decently.
Q: During your stint with Kings XI Punjab, you saw the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Adam Gilchrist closely. What’s that one X- factor that separates these ‘men’ from the ‘boys’?
Chawla: As we all know, they are quality cricketers and quality leaders. I don’t need to tell you that. The way they led the side was a benchmark for the youngsters to match. Personally, I learned a lot from them.
Q: At KKR, you have played alongside Sunil Narine. What makes him special? Will his rebuilt action allow him to bowl with the same kind of control?
Chawla: Let’s see. I can’t say much about this. He is a quality bowler and he has proved that. He has done quite well for KKR over the years.
Q: Nowadays, we see bowlers fading away in the longer version owing to their increasing affair with variations. What’s the key to success for bowlers, especially leg spinners to attain success in all three formats?
Chawla: As a leg spinner, you need to be an attacking option for your captain. If you are not aggressive, it becomes difficult. Whether it is a Test, ODI or a T20, you have to be attacking most of the time.
Q: You were a member of the triumphant Indian side that lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. What was the main factor that drove Team India in that tournament?
Chawla: I think the way we played in that edition and the fact that everybody chipped in with crucial performances helped us win the World Cup. We all know how well Yuvi bhai (Yuvraj Singh) played in that edition. He was the ‘Man of the Tournament’ and as we know, he is a quality cricketer. He played some outstanding knocks and took plenty of wickets in that World Cup. That made our triumph possible.
Q: All right Piyush. The rapid fire round is up next. Shall we proceed?
Q: Your nickname.
Q: Your favorite cuisine.
Q: Your favorite movie.
Q: Your favorite leg spinner.
Chawla: Shane Warne.
Q: Your favorite holiday destination.
Chawla: New Zealand.
Q: Your hobby.
Chawla: Playing snooker.
Q: Best compliment you have ever received.
Chawla: I don’t think that I have received any compliment as such but people say that I am cute. I don’t know why (Burst into laughter after saying this).
Q: Describe ‘Gambhir: the skipper’ in one word.
Q: If not a cricketer, then what?
Chawla: Don’t know. Never thought about it.
Q: The ICC World T20 is scheduled to be held in India next year. Does Piyush Chawla see himself making a comeback into the Indian side for that tournament?
Chawla: See. There are a few things that are not in my control, one of which is selection. The thing which is in my control is to go out there and perform. If things go well, the rest will automatically follow.
Thanks for your time Mr. Piyush.
Chawla: Cheers brother!!