"The need for new challenges" has led legspinner Piyush Chawla to move from Uttar Pradesh to Gujarat for the upcoming Indian domestic season. Chawla and RP Singh, the former UP pacer who signed with the reigning Ranji Trophy champions last season, will be the two professional players for the side in 2017-18.
Chawla's paperwork has been completed, allowing him to join the Gujarat squad ahead of their pre-season camp next month, after his stint with Chemplast in Chennai's first-division league. Chawla was earlier in talks with Vidarbha, who eventually signed legspinner Karn Sharma.
"Up north, you either get flat wickets or seaming tracks. We've struggled to find a middle path, so as a spinner, opportunities to make inroads are very less. I wanted to play in an environment where the surfaces are little more responsive and allow you to make an impact," Chawla told ESPNcricinfo. "It was a hard decision to move from a state where you've played right from the start, but pure cricketing reasons merited a move."
Chawla brushed aside murmurs of competition for places with Kuldeep Yadav being the reason for his move. "Most teams field two spinners anyway, so that isn't the reason," he said. "We play together at the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders. I've been around for 12 years now, so there's no insecurity. I've read these things in the papers, but I can't explain the reason to everyone. He's come along very well, but for me, personally, at this stage of my career, I wanted a new perspective and I thought playing for a side that has come up tremendously would give me an opportunity to contribute in many ways."
Parthiv Patel, the Gujarat captain, felt Chawla's experience would be invaluable. "With India playing lot of limited-overs cricket at home, there's a possibility we may not have the services of Axar Patel throughout. We wanted to strengthen our spin department, and we're happy to have someone of Piyush's calibre," he said. "We will be playing our home games in Surat and Valsad, where it turns. Having a wristspinner, we thought, would add a lot of value.
"He's also very handy lower down the order as a batsman. That skill of his is underrated. So overall, he brings a lot to the table. We had a chat last year. He indicated his willingness to come over, which we thought about ahead of the season. When we assessed our balance as a squad, considering we will defend our title, we felt we were lacking in the spin department. With Piyush coming over, we feel we have most boxes ticked."
Chawla, a Ranji Trophy winner with UP in 2005-06, the same season in which he debuted for India, led the side in 11 first-class games across three seasons. He featured in just two first-class matches in a disappointing campaign in 2016-17, when UP finished seventh in the nine-team pool, with one win, four losses and three draws.
Chawla has picked up 386 wickets over 117 first-class games, 80 of which have been for UP. An IPL regular with Kolkata Knight Riders, Chawla last played for India in 2012.
Other domestic transfers
Robin Uthappa from Karnataka to Saurashtra
KB Arun Karthik from Assam to Kerala
Karn Sharma from Railways to Vidarbha
Ambati Rayudu from Vidarbha to Hyderabad
Pragyan Ojha from Bengal to Hyderabad
Chadrakant Pandit, the former Mumbai coach, will head Vidarbha