Birthday special: Piyush Chawla – The leg-spinner who became India’s lucky charm


Born on December 24, 1988, in the Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh, Piyush Chawla represented the nation’s Under-19 team at the tender age of 15 and was also a part of the Uttar Pradesh Under-22 squad. With a well-disguised googly, which has fooled many batsmen, the young leg-spinner managed to leave an impression at the age-level cricket, before he made his first-class debut when he was only 17.

First-class career

In his maiden first-class season, he bagged 35 wickets and scored 224 runs to help his state team win their first Ranji Trophy. His early exploits were noted, as he made his debut for Central Zone against South Zone in the Duleep Trophy. Chawla’s story of coming into the international reckoning is an interesting one as he cleaned up Sachin Tendulkar with a googly in a Challenger Trophy encounter in the 2006 season.

An international calling was not denied to him, and he soon made his Test debut. When most people in the world would nowhere even be close to thinking about making a career as a professional, Chawla, in his teens, played two Test matches against England and South Africa. He took three wickets on his ODI debut in Bangladesh in 2007 and as many as 14 during India’s tour of Ireland and England the same year, often troubling the English batsmen with his googlies and variations.

He had a bigger impact in limited-overs cricket, and he stayed more often with the ODI team, also helped by an impressive performance in the first IPL. But after an ordinary Asia Cup in Pakistan in 2008, he was sent back to domestic cricket to fine-tune his game. After being out of international action for a long time, when the likes of Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha overtook him, Chawla made a comeback when he was included for the 2010 edition of World T20 and then made it to the squad for the 2011 World Cup.

Part of World Cup-winning squads

He is one of the very few players who have the distinction of being in the World Cup-winning teams both in the T20 as well as the ODI format. Chawla was recalled for national duty during England’s tour to India in 2012 and played the final Test at Nagpur before featuring in the T20Is that followed. Since then, he has not managed to get back into the Indian side, though he has been a regular at the domestic circuit.

Apart from his exploits in international cricket, Chawla, who turns 33 today, happens to be one of the most successful bowlers in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he has the distinction of playing for Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Chennai Super Kings.