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No better leader than Mahi bhai: CSK's new buy Chawla

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 19, 2019 21:48 IST
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Piyush Chawla

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming on Thursday said his IPL side traded hard for veteran Piyush Chawla because he shares a "great relationship" with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, besides being a quality leg-spinner.

Chawla turned out to be a surprise hit with the franchises during the IPL auction in Kolkata and was eventually bought by Chennai Super Kings for a whopping Rs 6.75 crore.

Fleming revealed that it was a well-thought out decision as CSK heavily rely on spinners in Chepauk's low and slow wicket. 

"We traded very hard (for Chawla) and certainly the captain has a great relationship with him. He's proven that he's a quality leg-spinner which we value very highly," the CSK coach said.

 

"He's a different type of bowler than Karn Sharma. We also had to make some decisions around how all fits in but it was an opportunity that came up and we took it. We have a pretty well-balanced squad. We've always favoured spin, our home ground is very spin dominant, so having a lot of spinners is not a bad thing."

 

"There can't be a better team than CSK to play for and better captain than MS Dhoni," said the veteran leggie.

Chawla's long-time association with Kolkata Knight Riders ended last month when he was released by them. He was no more a certainty in the KKR playing eleven with Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine being ahead of him in the pecking order.

"As a player, you always want to be with a good team, play under a good captain and you can't have a better team than CSK and a better leader than Mahi bhai. I can't ask for more," Chawla told PTI from his hometown Moradabad.

The Aligarh-born cricketer, who was part of India's World Cup winnings squads in 2007 (T20) and 2011 (ODI), experienced butterflies in the stomach ahead of the auction but he was not at home to catch the action on television. He played three Tests, 25 ODIs and seven T20s for India.  His last international game was in December 2012.

Chawla revealed that KKR communicated of their decision to release him well in advance and he has no hard feelings towards the franchise.

"It all depends on the combination. The KKR think-tank probably had a different combination on their mind. On Eden Gardens wicket now, there is not much for the spinners.

"They also told me that 'we are looking for fast bowlers and there is no point having three quality spinners in the team' and that is why they released me. So, there is no bad blood between us. It is all in a healthy way," said Chawla, who now plays Ranji Trophy for Gujarat, having moved from Uttar Pradesh.

Chawla is thankful for the faith Dhoni and the CSK team management has showed in him but his place in the XI is not a given, considering the presence of Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja in the CSK squad.

"It is too early to talk about that (my place in the eleven). Chennai is a big ground, it suits my style of bowling. Not many people know that I have played a lot of club cricket in Chennai in the past 12 years," said Chawla.

Chawla said he attracting a good price reaffirms that leg-spinners never go out of fashion. He also expected CSK to bid for him.

"In the last big auction also, my last bid was stopped at CSK but KKR used the Right to Match (RTM card) to retain me. They have always showed faith in me.

  "As you said, we (leggies) never go out of fashion. It is always the attacking option. You are bound to go for runs in the T20s but also have a chance to take wickets."

Chawla added that he has no regrets in life and has not yet given up on an India comeback, having played his last international game seven years ago.

"That is how it goes. It is not only about cricket, you go through highs and lows in life in general. There is fun in that. 

"I am still 30. I have been playing Ranji Trophy also. Basically, wherever I get to play, I go. I just love this game. If India comeback has to happen, it will happen," Chawla added.

Talking of the other buys of the evening, Fleming said Sam Curram, who was bought for for Rs 5.5 crore, too was a good pick, considering his all-round abilities.

"Well, there were a lot of players...(Pat) Cummins is one that I think most people identified but we didn't have a lot of money. So, we had to be very smart. Sam Curran, we liked. Yes, he's a left-arm seamer who can bat," he said.

"He has a great attitude towards the game, he really gets into the game. He played well against us in the past. He's playing well for England. So, he fits in nicely with Bravo in that sort of seven-eight position."

Fleming said CSK went for Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood as he will add more fire into their bowling attack.

"And getting Hazlewood at the end is to add a little bit of firepower with (Lungi) Ngidi. Like other teams, we are just trying to add some pieces and then just work through the combinations," he said.

"You can get confused but we're actually pretty happy with our group. So, it was just a case of trying to add a few things different." 

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