Venkatesh Prasad, former Indian fast bowler and bowling coach, has revealed that he had once written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] to fast track the selection process of the likes of Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma.
Prasad was the coach of the India U-19 team in 2006 that made its way to the finals before falling short against Pakistan in a low-scoring final. Immediately after that U-19 World Cup, the Indian colts traveled to Sri Lanka where the trio of Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Piyush Chawla performed brilliantly.
While Rohit Sharma had racked up 349 runs from six matches, Cheteshwar Pujara ended up with 205 runs at an average of 41. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, on the other end, finished with 13 wickets at an average of 12.15 and an economy rate of 3.21.
“These three guys – Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma I had no doubt about their talent and their capabilities. I knew very well that they’re going to go a long way. In fact, the moment the U-19 World Cup (2006) was over, I did write to BCCI in my report saying that these players should be fast-tracked into playing Ranji Trophy or the zone matches, this is what I had said,” Venkatesh Prasad told FanCode.
BCCI acted on Venkatesh Prasad’s recommendations and the trio soon went on to represent India
Out of these three cricketers, Piyush Chawla was the first to make a transition from U-19 to top-level cricket when he was selected for the Mohali Test against England in 2006.
Rohit Sharma followed suit when he was handed his One-day International debut against Ireland in the summer of 2007.
Cheteshwar Pujara, however, had to wait for the longest period of time before he finally made his Test debut against Australia during the 2010 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Piyush Chawla was the part of the squad that won the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 50-over World Cup.
However, the leg-spinner could not attain the same success in international cricket as he did in domestic cricket. Chawla played his international game for India back in 2012 while Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara have gone to impinge themselves as key members of the white-ball and Test side respectively.