Aakash Chopra

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is one of the best thinkers and writers on the game. Find out more at www.cricketaakash.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @cricketaakash

Blog Posts by Aakash Chopra

  • The Ajit Agarkar vs Mumbai fiasco

    ‘The Ranji Team for the domestic one-day games had been announced, and the morning’s newspapers were carrying the line-up. I was looking for the new names that had found their way into the team. But something was hugely awry. The players I’d known would make it to the team were all on the list. The ones that got no attention in all these days of practice had been taken off the list, no surprises there. But the reporter had bungled up—big time. He had to have; why else would my name not be on a list that had carried it for over a decade now (and leading the list, thanks to the double ‘a’ in Aakash). I went over the list again. This time I read out each name, but no, there was no ‘Aakash Chopra’… Not for a moment did I consider this preposterous possibility—until now, as I sat still, blank, forced to wrap my head around the idea. u000a   u000a …Of course, having my name struck off the list was a huge blow. But that is how it is. No matter how brave a face a player presents, there is

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  • Ground Realities!

    Imagine reading a 'Caution' sign board on a cricket ground saying - do not play fast bowlers in the nets, you could break either your fingers or toes. You'd be amused, right?

    Well, even though the sign board is a bit of an exaggeration, the state of this pitch isn't - the ball either keeps alarmingly low or flies over the batsman's head regularly. The best bet to remain match fit is to have a curtailed net-session and that too only against the spinners.

    On the morning of the match, the wicket-keeper pulls out his helmet from the first over (even for the fast bowlers) knowing well that a lot of balls would stay dangerously low and he may get hit because of bad bounce.

    If there's too much dew and fog (which delays the removal of covers), one must resign to the fate of playing with a bar of soap because there are only four grounds-men at the venue and it's unrealistic to expect them to get the ground ready in time. Yes, they have a super-sopper but unfortunately they don't have the

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  • How Ranji Trophy Pitches Reward Mediocrity


    It is heartening that the first round of
    the Ranji trophy created a flutter — if certain stats are to be believed, it
    generated more interest than some of the matches in the Champions League. We, the
    First Class cricketers, are used to playing in empty stadia, performing only
    for scorers and the selectors.


    This year, while the elevated interest didn't
    bring people in hordes to the grounds, it did feel good that people beyond our
    immediate family and friends are taking note of our performances.


    We, Rajasthan, were lucky to have played
    our first game at a smaller centre, Udaipur. A few hundred people turned up to
    watch us. The curator did a fine job in creating the sort of wicket that kept
    the crowd coming back every day.


    The wicket suited the quicks on Day 1 and
    2, and spinners on Day 3 and 4. And if you batted well you could also score big — K
    B Pawan proved it with a brilliant double ton. Though the game was drawn, there
    was plenty of drama with at least two results

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  • Ranji Trophy 2011-12: What to expect

    (Playing with the reigning Ranji champions Rajasthan, Aakash Chopra
    will share his experiences on the circuit in a series of posts,
    exclusively on Yahoo! Cricket. This post is the fourth in the series.)


    Last year, around this time, as teams in the elite and plate divisions of the first-class circuit primed for another season of top-quality cricket, we, team no. 27 - Rajasthan, last in the tally, only hoped to survive the onslaught. Winning the highest honor - The Ranji Trophy, was a preposterous contemplation, what was realistic was to play smart, if not better than the opposition, and sneak our way to the Elite group. Past the league phase, and once among the Elite teams, each game became a bonus. The final race ought to be between the big guns, it always had been.


    What were the chances of Rajasthan winning the title then? I’d say one in a million. Success stories though are scripted differently. After months of hard labor, Rajasthan lifted the trophy that had eluded them for

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  • Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy – serving no purpose

    BCCI has been meticulous enough in planning its string of first class tournaments - while the Ranji Trophy determines the best state side; it also throws in new talent that can last five day games. The Duleep Trophy is meant to take the standard a notch higher, for the best performers in the four zones compete against each other.


    Irani trophy has immense historic value for being the curtain raiser of the domestic season and also for testing the defending champions. The fifty-over Vijay Hazare trophy is supposed to unearth talent good at the shorter format. While the Deodhar and NKP Salve trophy, like Duleep and Irani trophy showcase the best flair in the country.


    Logically then, the selections to the national team, in most cases, is done on the basis of the performances in these prestigious domestic tournaments.


    In the midst of such impressive tournaments, there's one that isn't serving much purpose, or so it seems. How would it if its league phase, quite oddly, is played in

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  • Challenger not Challenging anymore

    (Playing with the reigning Ranji champions Rajasthan, Aakash Chopra will share his experiences on the circuit in a series of posts, exclusively on Yahoo! Cricket. This post is the third in the series.)

    What's the sole purpose of having the Challenger Trophy? I'm assuming that it's to test the skill set as well as the temperament of the best 36 cricketers in the country in trying/challenging conditions. But, since this tournament is held in India, isn't it rather ambitious to expect the conditions to challenge the participants? After all, these grounds/tracks are their workstations throughout the year.


    Perhaps, playing in front of a packed stadium and a huge TV audience could separate chalk from cheese, for many players suffer from stage fright and react differently to such pressure. Unfortunately, even that can't be achieved with this year's edition of the Challenger Trophy - there's already been a heavy overdose of cricket and with the crowd already giving the Champions League a

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  • Battered and bruised

    (Last week's Irani Trophy kicked off a new domestic season in India. Playing with the reigning Ranji champions Rajasthan, Aakash Chopra will share his experiences on the circuit in a series of posts, exclusively on Yahoo! Cricket. This post is the second in the series.)




    Battered and bruised - that's how I'm feeling after getting a serious pounding over five days in the season opener - the Irani trophy. Yes, the match was in Jaipur - our home ground and yes, the Rest of India team wasn't as strong a team as it could've possibly been, yet it did little to change the outcome of the game.




    First things first, the track at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium was prepared under the watchful eyes of the Chairman of the Pitch committee - Venkat Sundram. The thought behind supervising the pitch preparation was to avoid the repeat of last year's Irani trophy tie at the same venue. Back then, the track was as flat as a pancake, forgive the cliche, and thousands of runs were scored

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  • Nerves & Niggles – Coping With The Season Opener

    (This week's Irani Trophy kicks off a new domestic season in India. Playing with the reigning Ranji champions Rajasthan, Aakash Chopra will share his experiences on the circuit in a series of posts, exclusively on Yahoo! Cricket.)



    Spent eight long and tiring hours under the Jaipur sun fielding on the first day of the big-big Irani Trophy - this was also the first time I took the field this new cricket season. Irani is a crucial game and one is expected to feel a wee bit edgy. I've been here many a times in the past, 14 times to be precise (not necessarily playing the Irani trophy but preparing for the beginning of a new season), yet nothing seems to have changed.


    The butterflies in the stomach paid their customary visit last night. They told me that I must refrain from sleeping too late - dinner must be of soup and salad, must not chatter much on the dinner table and focus on the game at hand. I am told "match anxiety" is good, even though I feel too much of it can bog you

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  • The Scourge of Age-Fudging


    Ankit Bawne, named India Under-19 skipper, was dropped from the squad. The date of birth he'd provided to the BCCI and the one on his passport did not match. He said the agent goofed up while submitting details to the passport office, which may or may not be true.


    But instead of crucifying him, I'd address the mess Indian cricket has repeatedly found itself in - players forging their age. Unfortunately this malpractice isn't restricted to a select few or a couple of states. It is widespread. The reason for illegally tinkering with one's age is to remain eligible for age-group tournaments longer since they are the stepping-stone to bigger things in cricket.


    The Bearded 12-Year-Old


    I distinctly remember an Under-16 match against Punjab in which one of the bowlers had a fully-grown beard. The player went on to play for India and that's when I got to know that he was four years younger to me, which means he was 12 in that Under-16 match. Is it possible to grow a beard at that

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  • India’s Time To Rebuild


    Two months ago, India set foot on the
    English soil as the No. 1 Test side and world champions in ODIs. They return, callously
    stripped off their ranking and their airs. After the 4-nil humiliation in the Tests,
    we've slipped to No. 3 in Tests. And not winning a single ODI has pushed our
    ODI rank off a cliff, too.


    But the point is not so much about the
    rankings. We'd climb the ladder again playing the home fixtures over the next
    few months. Rankings, we must understand, cannot be an absolute representation
    of calibre, both of the loser or the winner. So, while things can only improve
    hereon, we must not brush off this painful experience as a nightmare. Lessons
    ought to be learnt. 


    To Groom Youngsters


    For the longest time India's team
    composition didn't need much tinkering — most of our batsmen were in form and
    bowlers were fit and performing. In fact, we'd often face the problem of plenty,
    and perhaps that is why we didn't spend time preparing the second line.



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(39 Stories)