Two months prior to the World Cup, maybe even Piyush Chawla himself didn’t expect a call-up for the Indian squad. Yet, he made the cut. Once selected, most people believed he will be a mere passenger throughout the whole tournament with Ravichandran Ashwin being the second spinner. But, the team management surprised us by picking him over Ashwin in out first XI, whether it was the practice match against Australia that influenced that decision, can only be guessed.
Chawla was far from being impressive in the first three games and there was almost disbelief among the general public when they did not see Ashwin against Holland. Personally, I also believe that Ashwin should have got a chance in that match. Not that I doubt Chawla’s talent, but Ashwin’s sound temperament wins the spot for me. Even if MS Dhoni wanted Chawla to succeed, he has given him enough chances with desired results to keep putting faith in him.
Also, if justification is that Chawla was picked because he is a handy bat, then that makes little sense since Ashwin too is pretty useful lower order batsmen. Besides, how many batting options do you need after having a superb top 7 ? Dhoni recently also commented, that Ashwin was ‘mentally stronger’ than Chawla and could come in and perform in a crunch game directly. Not that skipper MSD won’t know a player who has been with him for a long time, but coming into a crucial match after being benched for close to a month is not easy. No match practice can take a toll on anyone, be it Ashwin or even the best bowler of the world. On this side of the coin, I totally support media and public in dropping Chawla.
Now lets come to the other aspect of this story, which the general public has not ( and probably will never) realize. In a country like India, where there is so much passion for Cricket and media is very vocal, it would be easy to get influenced by the media. Public outcry over a defeat is bound to happen, particularly when they play such a big tournament. In fact, such a move would be widely appreciated by mosts. However, the team management made a strong statement by keeping its head clear. Back in ’08, when India toured Australia, Yuvraj Singh was dropped after a couple of bad tests. More than his bad form, media influenced that decision. Not saying, it was wrong doing so, but Yuvraj was a much better choice even without form than his replacement.
The current team management did not do so and it makes me feel, that they are at least sure of what they want and what team combinations they have in mind. They did not get confused by the overall belief and kept putting faith in their own thought process. In this sense, I laud the team management. After all, Chawla has now been given a fair run and he can’t think of complaining even one bit if he is dropped. It reallt makes sense, doesn’t it ?? Every player will be at his confident best if he knows he will be given a fair run before being chucked. When you look at it this way, the picture doesn’t look that bad, does it ??Published 20 Mar 2011, 23:35 IST