New Delhi: Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram on Tuesday backed the inclusion of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in the 15-member Indian squad for the upcoming World Cup but said he was surprised at Rohit Sharma's omission.
"The pure cricketing reason for Chawla's selection is that he is a leg-spinner and in the sub-continental conditions, he has the variety in his repertoire including a googly, which could come handy on turning tracks," Akram told a sports website.
Chawla, who last played an ODI match in 2008, was on Monday picked in the national squad ahead of Pragyan Ojha - a more regular feature in the Indian team.
The 22-year-old probably got the nod for his impressive show with both ball and bat during the just concluded Ranji Trophy and Akram feels his inclusion is fair enough.
"Ojha has been in good form of late in Test cricket. However, apart from being a spinner with a lot of variety, Chawla is a handy bat, and a young and energetic fielder.
"These small, yet critical selection calls are taken after discussions with the captain, the coach and the selectors. I am sure they have made the decision on Chawla keeping everyone in the loop," he added.
Sharma, on the other hand, has failed to do justice to his talent with an average of a mere 28.34 in 58 ODIs with just five fifties and two hundreds in his career and Akram feels he paid the price for being inconsistent.
"The most astonishing thing for me is that Rohit has not been picked. He is such a talented batsman. But again, if you do not score runs at the top level on a regular basis, you are bound to get the axe," the 44-year-old insisted.