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Rookie Chawla gets a pat from Kumble

"He has the talent and the ability. I am sure he will play for a long, long time to come," said the master.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2006 16:09 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Two leg spinners Anil Kumble, picking his record 500th wicket, and a rank youngster Piyush Chawla, yet to open his account, met with contrasting fortunes in the second cricket Test against England.

But one has almost 17 years of international experience, the other happens to be of that age!

Kumble reaped a five-wicket haul and also picked a record 500th wicket in the process but Chawla was carted all around the park by the big hitting English batsmen like Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

If 35 year-old Kumble, more than double the age of his younger teammate, had a memorable outing, it was at best a forgettable debut for the Aligarh-born chubby-cheeked Chawla.

Hit for fours and sixes in the nine overs that he was given to bowl in England's first innings, Chawla's misery prompted Pietersen to comment "I felt sorry for the little kid."

This comment by the England batsman betrayed a certain arrogance, not uncommon where Englishmen are concerned, and must have rankled the teenager utmost.

Chawla, who has played seven first classes matches so far, later said he was trying to bowl regular leg-spin and did not try to be over ambitious because that was what skipper Rahul Dravid had told him when he handed him the ball for the first time on the opening day of the match.

"Dravid told me to keep it simple. He said bowl the way you bowled at the junior level. Also, I did not expect that I would be brought in as a first change bowler," Chawla said.

But India's Under-19 hero, who first drew attention by dismissing Sachin Tendulkar with a googly during the Challenger Series last year, would be wise not to get disheartened with what has happened in this Test, for the journey has just begun for him.

In fact, the feats of his senior colleague would have inspired him in ample measure to emulate his idol and take the trail blazed by the ace leggie.

Kumble, the genial cricketer that he is, had loads of encouraging words for Chawla even during his hour of glory.

"He is still young. He has bowled well actually. It was unfortunate that he was up against two of world's most aggressive batsmen in Pietersen and Flintoff," said Kumble of Chawla.

"He has the talent and the ability. I am sure he will play for a long, long time to come," he said.

What Kumble was probably hinting was that the country's leg spin baton is bound to be passed on Chawla, the most promising leg break bowler on show at the moment.

It would not be an easy load on the young shoulders given the team's dependecy on the slow bowlers to do the trick against spin-wary sides like England.

Chawla has done enough to earn a Test cap, besides his best 5-37 and a total of 42 wickets at an average of 23.57 to his credit at first class level, there can be no doubt about it but what remains to be be seen is that whether he can convert promise into performance.

First Published: Mar 12, 2006 16:09 IST