What's the story?
Indian leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has denied reports that Kuldeep Yadav's phenomenal rise to fame has been the reason behind his decision to move to Gujarat from his home state Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season.
The 28-year-old instead argued that the lack of helpful pitches in the northern part of India had forced him to take the tough call of leaving UP.
"We play together at the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders," Chawla said referring to Kuldeep Yadav. "I've been around for 12 years now, so there's no insecurity. I've read these things in the papers, but I can't explain the reason to everyone.
"Up north, you either get flat wickets or seaming tracks. We've struggled to find a middle path, so as a spinner, opportunities to make inroads are very less. I wanted to play in an environment where the surfaces are little more responsive and allow you to make an impact," Chawla told ESPNcricinfo.
Still only 28, Chawla has been one of the most consistent performers in the domestic circuit since making his senior debut for UP in 2005.
He has featured in 117 matches for the state and has picked up 386 wickets at an average of 33.89. He is no muck with the bat either with five-first class centuries to his name.
The heart of the matter
Despite his pedigree as a leg-spinning all-rounder, Chawla has found chances hard to come by at the national level with just 3 Tests and 25 ODIs to his name, despite making his debut for the Indian cricket team as early as 2006.
With Kuldeep Yadav making an instant impact at the international level, there have been speculation that Chawla could see his chances dwindle but the latter refuted the claims and said that his move is purely based on cricketing reasons.
With the BCCI switching back to the home-and-away format for the upcoming season after experimenting with the neutral venue concept in the previous campaign, Chawla expects the conditions to be tough for any spinner playing the bulk of their matches in the northern part of India.
Having featured in only two first-class matches in the previous campaign, Chawla felt the time was right to make a move to a new environment.
Chawla has been keeping himself busy in Chennai's first-class league where he turned out for Chemplast and will join up with his new teammates at Gujarat, who scripted history in the 2016-17 season winning their ever Ranji Trophy title under Parthiv Patel's captaincy.
The defending champions begin their pre-season camp next month where Chawla will be linking up with yet another former UP player in the form of fast bowler RP Singh, who moved to Gujarat ahead of the 2016-17 season.
With the competition for places in the spin department continuing to a problem of plenty for the Indian national team, Piyush Chawla knows that there is little time to waste for someone who is hoping to make an international comeback.
A move to the defending Ranji Trophy champions may just be the confidence booster he is looking for and he will be an excellent addition to the Gujarat side with his vast experience and all-round abilities.