MS Dhoni has been vehemently opposed to the idea of including a leg-spinner in the 15-member squad for the Test series against England. But with the off-spinners — R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh — failing to back their captain, the selectors finally had their way and on Sunday Harbhajan made way for Piyush Chawla.
But it was the choice, Chawla, that made everyone sit up in shock. While the selectors had wanted to include Amit Mishra even when the team was announced for the third Test in Kolkata, Dhoni had his way and Chawla — often considered the team’s lucky mascot — was the one who made the cut.
Speaking to MAIL TODAY , a senior BCCI official said it was a choice that was left to Dhoni. “The selectors had listened to Dhoni while picking the squad for the third Test, but this time they were clear that a legspinner needed to be added to bring in more variety to the bowling outfit. But then they left it for him to decide if it was Chawla or Mishra who would make the cut. And Chawla supposedly has the confidence of the captain and so he was selected,” he said.
Chawla’s selection has surprised one and all and the fact that Mishra has been in much better form in the current domestic season has brought in more flak. While Mishra has scalped 15 wickets from five matches at an average of 26.46, Chawla has managed just nine wickets in four matches at an average of 55.20. Only, Chawla has a better record with the bat.
Mishra’s performance with the ball is also praiseworthy due to the fact that his team’s batsmen haven’t really hit form with the bat. They scored 55 and 66 in their first couple of games, but the Haryana skipper has been able to garner the respect of the opposition.
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The moment the batsmen turned on the heat against Baroda, he was quick to scalp five wickets in the first innings, giving away just 97 runs off 34 overs. In the next match against Delhi, he once again picked six wickets in the match – two in the first and four in the second innings.
On the contrary, Chawla has been all over the place. But his selection has often defied logic, be it for the ODI World Cup that India won last year or this year’s World Twenty20, and this is just one more of those cases.