Piyush Chawla is synonymous with the Challenger Trophy, the tournament where he shot to fame as a 16- year old by bamboozling Sachin Tendulkar.
“Jab bhi Challenger Trophy ki baat hoti hai, toh intro mere se hi hoti hai,” he says flashing a big smile. “I still remember that dismissal very clearly, I had bowled a couple of leg-spinners and then decided to bowl a googly and it beat him all ends up. I was just uncontrollable in my celebrations, but it has been a long time now,” he says.
Eight years to be precise. Chawla is now 24, belongs to a select band of double World Cup winners and has been a success as an overseas professional in English county cricket.
Yet his international career reads: three Tests, seven T20Is and 25 ODIs in a sevenyear span.
“I picked up four wickets in my last Test and am still waiting for my next opportunity for almost a year now. It gets frustrating sometimes,” Chawla says with a hint of pain in his voice before regaining composure.
“I have under-achieved in my career so far. Ideally I would have liked to have played a lot more matches and be a constant in all formats, but I still have time on my hands,” he says. Chawla has a two- point agenda.
“I wish I could show you guys the videos of my wickets during my stint with Somerset. Out of the 17 wickets, I got nine batsmen caught in the slips on English pitches, which means I was turning the ball and bowling lot of leg- spin. It is important to bowl according to the situation, plug the run flow and pick wickets,” he says.
The second feature that Chawla hopes everyone notices is his improved batting, and his eagerness to become an allrounder.
“I have worked a lot on my batting and believe that I can become a good allrounder. I spend more time on my batting these days and want to move a couple of places up in the order,” says Chawla.
A county stint is considered auspicious for several out- of- favour cricketers. Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Murali Kartik made a name for themselves in England, while Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha have also done so in recent memory.
“The last time I made a comeback was also through my stint with Sussex,” Chawla chips in.
“ I hope my performance with Somerset helps my case.”