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

  • Living in denial, BCCI style

    The results won't change - not unless India welcome change.


    The most important prerequisite of good preparation is honesty, for a less than 100% honest appraisal is akin to not preparing at all.

    Unfortunately, preparation has never been India's forte. Instead, India players and officials alike have developed a unique ability to constantly live in denial.

    If you refuse to accept that there's a need to change, the results are unlikely to change either.

    When India got hammered in Australia and England, 'the people who mattered' used the theory of 'fast' pitches leading to our downfall as a cover up for the debacle. Rather than conceding that these failures reflected a collective decline of the team. They were still bullish about their enviable home record. They even vowed to 'teach' these teams a lesson while playing on dusty pitches the next time they toured India.


    Well, England learnt their lessons after their drubbing against Pakistan and came well prepared.

    On the contrary, India continued with a woefully out-of-form batting line-up, hoping

    Read More »from Living in denial, BCCI style
  • Who deserves national colours?

    Shahbaz Nadeem has been one of the young Indians to grab headlines this IPL


    This edition of the IPL, like all the previous seasons, has brought many lesser-known domestic cricketers to the fore. While Harmeet Singh produced a match-winning final over against Kolkata Knight Riders, Shahbaz Nadeem cleaned up both Levi and Jacobs against Mumbai Indians. Rajat Bhatia too continues to bowl miserly, even as many others catch the eye. These unknown commodities of Indian cricket, who one wouldn’t have heard of otherwise, have been rightfully hogging the limelight. Besides bringing money into the pockets of many domestic cricketers, the IPL also brings recognition—both being scarce to an average first-class player.

    One successful season in the IPL justifies their years of toil in inhospitable conditions.
     
    While it’s convenient to get carried away with the ones who are doing well in the IPL, it will be grave injustice to forget the top performers of the domestic season. It’s unbelievable that the top three run-scorers—Robin Bist, Vineet Saxena and Abhinav Mukund, of the Read More »from Who deserves national colours?
  • Fast bowlers are winning matches in IPL

    If a bowler of Steyn or Morkel’s quality is bowling, you need special skills to put him away.



    Morne Morkel bowled two immaculate yorkers to clean up Kallis and Tiwary in two consecutive deliveries. Dale Steyn’s pace was a bit too much to handle for the dangerous Richard Levi. Lasith Malinga made Manish Pandey dance to his tunes before ending his misery.

    If you missed seeing these dismissals and were told that all this happened in South Africa in Test match cricket, you would have readily believed. Fortunately though, all this and more has happened in this year’s IPL and for me, that’s been the highlight of the tournament.

    Fast bowlers are not only making their presence felt but also winning matches on their own.
     
    Is this a new trend?
    T20 cricket, especially in the subcontinent, is considered to be a batsman’s game. The matches are played on flat pitches and grounds are relatively smaller. Hence bowlers are expected to play only a supporting act. The lead actors are always the ones with the willow in their hand, or so it is believed.

    But whatever we have seen so far in IPL-V Read More »from Fast bowlers are winning matches in IPL
  • IPL - A look at the silver lining


    Many believe the IPL to be a nothing but ‘hit and giggle cricket’—it is cash rich, fast, colorful and entertaining. Yet, not really cricket. Players with a specific skill set rule the roost while the sponsors and franchisees make hay while the sun shines. The audience too seems to revel in its larger than life persona. Reason enough for the purists to look the other way. But is it really that flimsy? The league, now in its fifth edition, deserves a closer look.
     
    As incredible as it sounds, an IPL season is make-or-break for a lot of cricketers. I’m not talking about the million dollar babies of the IPL, but the Robin Bist and Parvinder Awana’s of India’s domestic cricket, who’ve done ever so well in the previous Ranji season. The IPL is their big ticket to stardom.
     
    Audience

    If one really wants to know the importance of the IPL in a domestic cricketer’s life, you’d do well by being a fly on the wall of a state team’s dressing room for an entire season. While the world, quite naively Read More »from IPL - A look at the silver lining
  • Pros and Cons of the IPL


    When the first draft of the Indian Premier League was outlined, its engineers would’ve hardly imagined it would turn into the mania it has become today. Come IPL and the cricketing world - second only to the global soccer family - will be swayed by a spectacular exhibition of a brand of cricket that has dared to rewrite the gospels of the game. The IPL has, in many ways, turned cricket into a thriving industry. It has turned the game from an international sport into a global one. The incentives of playing the IPL are far more enticing—not just money, which is huge, but also the exposure is unequaled. The flip side of it all, though, worries purists like me. Besides the debate about the chaste culture of cricket being disturbed, it’s the long-lasting impressions on technique and temperament that are far more worrisome.
     
    Indian cricket’s biggest produce, the IPL, as it readies for its fifth edition, demands interpretation and analysis. The point to consider is the bearing it has had on Read More »from Pros and Cons of the IPL
  • Time to blame the bowlers



    The sight of India’s batsmen No.3 and 5, Kohli and Raina, bowling the last two overs of a one-day innings in the CB series in Australia was rather disturbing. One could understand had they been summoned in the second innings after the match was virtually won. But throwing the ball to them in the first innings of the match and that too when the Sri Lankan batsmen had already scored plenty was a cause of worry. What made it worse was the fact that the Indian skipper hadn’t miscalculated the overs, for the regular bowlers still had a few in the kitty. So, the only logical reasoning behind such a move had to be the lack of faith in the frontline bowlers.
     
    But, you wouldn’t blame the captain, after all. Our bowlers had leaked way too many runs in the final overs in all the preceding matches. The gamble of trying Raina and Kohli was radical indeed but not bereft of logic.
     
    Lost resources
     
    Post the World-Cup victory, India has lost much of its bowling resources. It’s about time we realise that Read More »from Time to blame the bowlers
  • In the great man's shade

    Rahul Dravid had a way of putting you at ease or making your life miserable — depending on which side you were on


    It's been over a week since Rahul Dravid hung his boots. Yet, tributes to his illustrious career are still pouring in, and so they will be for some time to come. Greats often leave behind such legacies — of tales and memories, unforgettable and eternal. I’ve read over a dozen by now, written a few too. Yet, there’s still a lot to be told. Like the time I spent with him during my first international series against New Zealand — when he’d tried to, so self-effacingly, probe me a bit about Tuffy’s and Vettori’s bowling, whom I’d played during the warm up matches. A rookie like me giving Dravid a trick or two to play the Kiwis had certainly been embarrassing. It’s only now that I realize that to be a great, one ought to stand among, not above.

    And then, at the last practice session on the eve of a big match at Adelaide, Dravid was nowhere to be found. Not even in the nets which had been a must for him before the match next morning. Where was he? Was he not supposed to practice? Get into the

    Read More »from In the great man's shade
  • Dinda and Awana should be nurtured

    Bowlers like Dinda and Awana, who can bowl reasonably quick are rare commodities. They ought to be protected and nurtured.



    While much of the Indian domestic season is remembered for the big hundreds scored by batsmen on rather lifeless surfaces, it would be a good idea to look out for men who swam against the tide and yet went unnoticed.

    Though there are a few bowlers who did better than the rest, my pick of the season are two faster men, who bowled relentlessly at a reasonable pace. They made the batsmen hop and jump if there was bounce on offer. They even searched for reverse swing when the track was too dry to offer lateral movement. On those rare occasions when the track assisted seam bowling, they pitched the ball fuller and troubled the best of the lot.

    Ashok Dinda and Parvinder Awana are the ones who impressed the most amongst the new crop of medium/fast bowlers.

    Dinda, the man from Kolkata, burst onto the scene only because Ponting insisted on having him on-board for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Initially, a net bowler, he bowled a lot better and, more importantly, a lot quicker than a lot of bowlers

    Read More »from Dinda and Awana should be nurtured
  • Time to lay Duleep Trophy to rest

    The zonal tournament has outlived its utility. It is time to shelve it and improve Ranji Trophy.

    The benefits of playing with the Kookaburra ball are negated by the Duleep format. (Getty)How good is the Duleep Trophy? On paper, a tournament between five zonal teams comprising of the best players from each of them ought to be good, right? Then why are the voices calling for the scrapping of this coveted tournament getting louder by the day? Since most of these appeals are straight from the players, something must be hugely amiss. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
     
    What is it about the Duleep Trophy that displeases its participants? Has the standard of competition reduced? Is it crowding the domestic calendar? Or has it ceased to make sense? Let’s delve into the issues plaguing this premier domestic tournament.
     
    Knocked Out

    A few years ago, the Duleep Trophy was at its peak with its round-robin league. All zones played each other on a home and away basis, which gave players enough opportunities to perform and tested their mettle in different conditions. Since the tournament was at least four weeks long, the assortment of players would begin to function as a team,

    Read More »from Time to lay Duleep Trophy to rest
  • How we changed the trend

    India's drawn series in the 2003-04 Australia tour was a victory in itself

    (This is Part 3 of Aakash's recollections of India's tour of Australia in 2003-04. Read Part 1 & Part 2)

    With Ganguly, India punched above their weight in Brisbane. We were set for Australia — strategies meticulously worked out, team combinations finalised and all of us were buoyant with energy so palpable. A last minute touch-up was important, and psychologist Sandy Gordon's interactive session did the trick. Gordon knew what we needed to hear — his words bolstered our resolve. He gave us a good brief on the Australian team, media and the fans, lest they intimidated us.

    He also handed out forms that asked us our goals, both short and long term, along with positive affirmations and such like. The team met a last time before the trip officially began and agreed to compose a slogan for the tour — something which would reflect our mindset and our collective goal. After much brainstorming, we settled on Change The Trend.
     
    Earlier that year, the slogan for India's World Cup campaign in South Africa was Now Or Never, resonating the team's mood. We

    Read More »from How we changed the trend

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