Former India leg-spinner Chawla, who has the experience of playing for Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders, accepted the warm welcome. He proved to be the costliest Indian player at the auctions.
The #DaddiesArmy has a brand new member! Welcome to the #SuperFam, Piyush! #SuperAuction #WhistlePodu 🦁💛 https://t.co/PTvPSVRNz1
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) 1576757293000
“Experience always matters in T20 cricket. When you are in a tough situation, you can always fall back on your previous experience to come out of the difficult circumstances. So I am happy to be a part of daddy’s army. Even during the auctions two years back, CSK had bid for me. But KKR used the RTM card to retain my services. I am happy that CSK have kept their faith again in me. The price tag won’t add to any pressure and I want to deliver,” Chawla told TOI from his home in Aligarh on Thursday.
Chawla was one of the four picks for the three-time IPL champions at this year’s auctions in Kolkata. CSK, operating with a purse of just Rs 14.8 crore, had a maximum of five slots to fill, including two overseas players. The franchise bagged England all-rounder Sam Curran for Rs 5.5 crore after staving off Delhi Capitals’ bid and Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood for the base price of Rs 2 crore. They also picked up R Sai Kishore for Rs 20 lakh.
All the players were bargain buys. On sluggish Chepauk wickets, left-armer Curran could be a handful with his cutters and chip in with useful contributions with the bat in the middle-order. With the team’s other pacer Lungi Ngidi being injury-prone – he is nursing a hamstring injury currently – it was a calculated move to have Hazlewood in their ranks.
Chawla, on the other hand, is a wily customer and ticks all the right boxes. The side’s other leggie Imran Tahir, who finished as the highest wicket-taker in last IPL, will be 41 next year and Chawla gives Mahendra Singh Dhoni more spinning options. Including Chawla in the line-up will also open up an overseas slot. “We didn’t have too much money, but Sam is really good for us. We have a lot of spinners but there is a lot of variety. We rate Chawla highly. At home, we have a method how we want to play. Away, Curran and Bravo give us options. We want to be a little more flexible in different conditions,” Fleming said.
Chawla, who has been a regular for Jolly Rovers in the TNCA league, knows a thing or two about Chennai pitches. He said Chepauk pitch will suit his bowling style. “Chennai is like my second home. Traditionally, the pitches here do help spinners but then one has to be at the top of their game to extract the turn. I have always believed in the philosophy that you can contain the batsmen only by taking wickets. So I will have an aggressive mindset,” Chawla said.
The 30-year-old, who was part of 2011 World Cup winning side, was also happy to be back playing under Dhoni’s captaincy. “Dhoni is the best captain in the world. We know how calm and composed he always is but the freedom he gives his bowlers to express themselves is something which I will relish,” Chawla said.