Despite Piyush Chawla's poor performance in the World Cup matches, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has decided to go ahead with the leg spinner in the match against the Netherlands.
The decision to continue with Chawla and not pick up off spinner R Ashwin has surprised many. What was more surprising was Dhoni's saying that legspinner Piyush Chawla needed more match practice and therefore retained his place in the team. Dhoni said Ashwin is mentally strong but Chawla needs confidence.
Even in the last match against Ireland, when most of the Indian bowlers had an impressive outing, Piyush Chawla stood out in stark contrast. There has been a huge clamour over skipper Dhoni’s preference to the leg-spin of Chawla than the off-spinner R Ashwin.
Chawla’s inclusion in the squad for the World Cup in itself was a big surprise, with the 22-year-old not having played a single ODI in India while remaining completely off the radar until last month. But then he was picked for the South African sojourn earlier this year, enough indication that he was going to be part of the Cup team though it was baffling considering Ashwin has been an integral part of the team for a while now.
However, Chawla, other than a four-wicket haul performance against Australia in the warm-up game here, has failed to deliver. Even veteran Indian spinner Anil Kumble wrote in his article, that India needed to bench Piyush Chawla, who had another poor game against Ireland. He bowled far too short and the Irish batsmen took full advantage. In Kumble's opinion if India play a second full-time spinner (which they might not need to seeing the form Yuvraj is in with the ball) then it has to be Ashwin.
Former Indian World Cup team member, Navjot Singh Siddhu also expressed surprise over the inclusion of Piyush Chawla in the team against the Netherlands and he also did not agree with the logic given by skipper Dhoni for his continuance.
Some people feel that the reason for persisting with the leg-spinner Chawla may be team management's plan to keep Ravichandran Ahswin as a surprise weapon for the knockout stages and not expose him to the opposition right away.