Piyush Chawla becomes 167th Indian to play ODIs

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali


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Dhaka : Cherub-faced Uttar Pradesh leg-spinner Piyush Chawla Saturday became the 167th Indian to play One-day Internationals when he was picked in the XI for the second match against Bangladesh here.

The 18-year-old player from Moradabad, near Delhi, had earlier made his Test debut against England in Mohali in March last year. He bowled 14.1 overs and took a solitary wicket in the rain-affected match that India won.

Chawla, a somewhat surprise selection in the ODI squad, was born in Aligarh, but his family moved to Moradabad when his father was transferred there.

He was told of his selection in the team meeting Friday evening, and that is perhaps why he looked relaxed as he took a stroll in the team hotel. He wore a big smile, chatted and answered a spate of SMSs on his mobile phone.

Chawla probably was informing his family and friends in India, and replying to congratulatory messages. He had for company pacer Sreesanth, whom he replaced in the XI, left-arm pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

But the curly-haired Chawla, who was India's leading wicket taker at the under-19 World Cup in 2006, had to wait to bowl Saturday as captain Rahul Dravid won the toss and opted to bat.

Chawla's selection is another proof of Uttar Pradesh's tradition of producing talented players. He has followed in the footsteps of Mohammed Kaif, R.P. Singh and Suresh Raina, who have played for India in recent times.

Uttar Pradesh, which won the Ranji Trophy national championship for the first time last year under Kaif's captaincy, has always produced good players.

The most populous Indian state has won numerous age-group tournaments. But for certain reasons many of these talented players have failed to go on to play for the country.

Lack of proper representation in the traditionally parochial selection methods is cited as one of the main reasons for their fizzling out without living upto their expectations.