ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v Australia, World Cup 2011 warm-up match

Chawla turns it around

Nagraj Gollapudi at the Chinnaswamy Stadium

February 13, 2011

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Michael Clarke chops the ball onto his stumps, India v Australia, World Cup warm-up match, Bangalore, February 13, 2011
Michael Clarke was one of Piyush Chawla's four victims © AFP
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Players/Officials: Piyush Chawla
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Teams: India

Let's give Piyush Chawla his due: he spun the ball with control, stuck to a disciplined line, and firmly wrenched the match out of Australia's grasp. It was a match-winning performance in his first-ever one-dayer in India, when anything less would've have probably hurt his ambitions, especially given the raging debate that had erupted in the wake of his selection to the Indian World Cup squad.

Though a performance like today's in a warm-up is not enough justification for his inclusion, Chawla at least showed visible signs that he has been working hard on getting his legbreak right. In the past he has struggled to spin the delivery Shane Warne built his legend on, and being just 22 then, Chawla was reluctant to admit his limitation. Having recently returned to the national team after a three-year hiatus, he appears to be steadily regaining lost ground.

Chawla had watched Jason Krejza turn the ball big in the afternoon and when his turn came to bowl, Australia were a comfortable 72 for 1. Shane Watson and Tim Paine had taken advantage of the hard ball and the absence of swing in the first ten overs to give Australia a confident start. Chawla's first ball slipped down the leg side for five wides. The dew, perhaps. He rubbed his palms dry and started afresh. The legbreak came out nicely, but Paine safely left it alone. He worked on that delivery for the next four overs, keeping Ricky Ponting busy without ever giving him width.

With a small target to defend, Dhoni knew he had no option but to attack, and that pressure could only be built through the various spinners at his disposal. Along with Chawla, the trio of R Aswhin, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh tied down the Australians with smart variations. The batsmen were kept hungry with barely a bad ball on offer.

Chawla found his voice immediately in his second spell. The reputation of Michael Clarke as one of the better players of spin had already taken a beating when the Australian vice-captain failed badly during the Test series in India last year. Chawla was aware of Clarke's tendency to charge to kill the spin. So he pushed in a couple of sliders, then followed it with a fast-ish leg break. Clarke tried cutting with hard hands, only to play on.

Chawla's biggest victory though was to keep Ponting silent. "That is probably the best I've seen him bowl," Ponting said in praise of Chawla. "He spun the ball a bit more tonight. His control was pretty good. He along with the other spinners did a good job and some of our new batsmen found it difficult. You can see that from the low scores in the middle order as it was hard to start against that spin bowling tonight."

The handsome crowd, who had started to fill in an hour before the match started, played the supporting act. Their roars enlivened the atmosphere. Chawla kept his emotions in check. Two perfect legbreaks with successive deliveries got the better of Cameron White and David Hussey. Desperate, Callum Fergusson tried to take on the lethal legbreak and was bitten.

As Ponting admitted, it was a lesson for his batsmen to understand the conditions today. "It was an unusual one-day wicket. I don't remember the last wicket that spun that much. But you have to find a way sometimes to combat good spin bowling in tough conditions like today."

In contrast, Dhoni was a happy man, saying he was confident Chawla would perform even if he had gone wicketless on his return to international cricket in the final match of the ODI series in South Africa in January. "His first game after returning to play for the country was under pressure, which is quite acceptable," Dhoni said. "[Today], it was a wicket which was turning a bit and he made the batsmen really think hard about the variations that he has got."

Dhoni agreed it was a tough wicket to bat on, but felt the Australians succumbed to pressure and that was the turning point. "Initially, when the fast bowlers were on the ball was coming on nicely but once we got couple of wickets in the middle, the ball was spinning. And once you are under pressure and you want to win the game desperately the pressure keeps mounting . It may have happened with the Australian side."

At the same time he pointed out that such a turner would be hard to find during the World Cup. "This is a sort wicket to be provided in Test matches, where the ball took spin after two hours," Dhoni said. Yet, Chawla, for one, would not mind such a pitch.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 55 
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Posted by Coolest on (February 15, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

I don't understand why Dhoni was criticizing the wicket at the post-match ceremony?? He said "I would be pleased if the wicket turns slightly less in future matches". What is wrong with creating spin friendly tracks in the world cup?? Everyone on this planet knows that India's only bowling strength is it spinners when playing in the sub-continent. This is why many people, including myself criticizes Dhoni as a captain and think that we need a different captain who will attack the opposition. A lot of people out there believes that Dhoni is a very defensive captain and every match India plays under his captaincy proves the point. Not just me but everyone who understand cricket well says that he wins matches because of his teams talent and not because of his defensive captaincy.

Posted by Liam on (February 15, 2011, 2:28 GMT)

India played well to get back into and then win the match. However any benefit they might have got out of this match was negated by the behaviour of the increasingly unstable Sreesanth. There is no excuse for the way he behaved and to his supporters, how would you feel if Bollinger had done the same thing to Tendulkar? Think about that.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 17:02 GMT)

My India 11 for the first game on Sat feb 17 viru,sachin,gambir,kohli,yuvraj,dhoni,yusuf,harbhajan,ashwin,sreesanth,zaheer

Only Ashwin and Sreesanth are iffy, right? U pick yours.

Posted by shan on (February 14, 2011, 16:43 GMT)

I think with this profomence,India won't even reach semi's.....one of the poor batting line ups in the tournerment...

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 16:35 GMT)

Great news that Chawla is a bowling option. Can he bat? Ashwin clearly can bat as well and difficult to play in Indian conditions as well as economical.

Question: Should one of them play in any 11? Second regular spinner as part of 11? Ashwin or Chawla?

Question: Which one is better overall (Ashwin or Chawla)?

Question: Do you agree with my 11?-- Viru, Gambir, Sachin, Virat, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Yusuf, Zaheer, Shreeshant, Bhaji, Chawla-Ashwin (last one I am split)?

What is your final 11 for India?

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 14, 2011, 16:25 GMT)

A brilliant performance by India in the field. A win against Austrailia is a always a self reliever whether it is a Test, ODI, T20 or warm up, because you always know that Austrailians will want to win no matter what. Indians bowled well and Austrailians played quite unlike Austrailia. Aussies really felt pressuried and it was such a good sight to watch. Having said that, this match also highlighted India's own batting worries. Sehwag looked assured during his knock but I would like him to attack from the start. Against good teams, if India scores less than 50 in 10 overs, they will not give enough opportunities in the middle. Sehwag must attack and leave solid batting to Sachin, Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni. Raina again looked weak at off side and balls that are bounced and he will be tested in the worldcup by the three other top teams in the group. Yousuf's quiet approach at the start was a good sight. Indians fast bowling looked weak again

Posted by Moha on (February 14, 2011, 15:28 GMT)

All Indian fans: Yes India beat AUS (the weakest Australian team for decades). But Indian batting is not promising. Batting is India's plus point. If Indian's batting doesn't click it will be real problem from match 1 for India. I don't understand people still put ENG as favorite team after they have thrashed out by Australians.

Posted by Kaushik on (February 14, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

INDIA's middle order is a concern now. Dhoni has to contribute with bat. If that happens it will be little better for india, simce yuvraj will be the only one who will be out of form (since sachin will replace RAINA for sure).

Also the wicket was more like a south afican wicket. Lot of unpredictable bounce was there, and that is what was causing problem. And the problem was compounded by the fact that our batsmen are not in form. Other wickets definitely will not be like this one. So chances are high that YUVRAJ will get some track which will help him to get into some form. Yuvraj did not have this much of proble earlier in his carreer. The ball in which he got out he was at least in two/three minds.This has more to do with lack of confidence rather than technical difficulty. One good innings he is missing. So do not give too much of emphasize on the result of this match.

Posted by ashok on (February 14, 2011, 13:15 GMT)

I can sense an allrounder in Ashwin - He has a good batting record in Domestic cricket and a very good bowling record in international cricket. Without him, we could also have been all out for 170+. he should be groomed for a better role replacing bajji...

Posted by am on (February 14, 2011, 13:14 GMT)

Yesterday once again India proved they have the fighting spirit and anything can happen before the last run is scored. Even a meagre target 214 looked like miles away. Sreesanth bowled well took very important wicket at right time as watson was going strong that moment and once again piyush chawla took a superb catch there. And when piyush chawla started bowling and took those 4 wickets wow he justified his selection and munaf on these type of wickets seems to be ineffective. So it is better if second spinner plays instead of him but the batting is looking to be more and more weak ... raina,,yuvi..gambhir.. and dhoni should get back into form quickly...unless batting clicks we cant keep much hopes..we cant expect yusuf to save us all the time..good that sehwag showed responsibility and he should carry on ..and not get out..presence of sachin should also help indian team

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