World Cup-winner Piyush Chawla attributed his relaxed attitude in the Challenger Trophy 2005 final as the reason behind bamboozling batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.
The leg-spinner was just 16 at the time and Tendulkar, playing for India Seniors, was looking in good touch. Chawla, playing for India B, breached through the defence of Tendulkar with a terrific googly, subsequently thrusting him into the limelight for the first time. A year later, the Aligarh-born tweaker made his debut for India aged just 17.
Despite getting off to an impressive start, Chawla has gone on to play for India in just 25 ODIs and 7 T20Is, along with three Tests. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and later, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal establishing themselves as India’s go-to spin options meant that Chawla’s opportunities at the international level has been limited.
“...As a 15-16 year old, when you are going to bowl at Sachin paaji, only two things are possible: you are either very nervous or very relaxed,” Chawla said during the chat show Homerun with AV with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative.
“Luckily I was relaxed. The reason behind that was my thinking that even if Sachin paaji hits me, how does that matter?
“If a man, who has taken the likes of Shane Warne, Muralitharan, and Glenn McGrath to the cleaners, hits me as well...it’s no big deal. So at that time, I had nothing to lose. I was just enjoying the ‘Oh I am bowling to Sachin paaji’ feeling.
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Chawla added: “So, as a bowler when you start from your run-up, you think what you exactly want to bowl. On that particular one, I don’t know what exactly happened.
“When I started off from my run-up, that too bowling inside the field restrictions, I thought I will bowl a normal leg spin from the leg stump going away from him. To be very honest, I still don’t know – it’s almost 16 years now. I don’t know what came to my mind and I just bowled a wrong ‘un.”
Chawla thinks that Tendulkar extracted revenge the following year in another Challenger Trophy game, taking him to the cleaners.
“People remember that I had got Paaji out in that fashion. Paaji, too, isn’t a man who forgets things quickly. The very next year, again in a Challenger Trophy game in Chennai, he smashed me around for 20 runs in my first over (chuckles)!
“That’s what I was saying: if Paaji hits me around, it’s not a big deal. He has smashed so many bowlers, which is why people don’t remember this [particular caning],” he said.
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