DateLine: 18th April 2009
Aakash Chopra has a technique and temperament perfectly suited to occupation of the crease and seeing the shine off the leather. Those attributes came handy for him, and for India, just when they were hunting desperately for a pair of good openers. After a right-knee injury had laid him low at the end of 2002-03, Chopra started the new season with a sound batting display in the two-Test series at home against New Zealand. That earned him a ticket to Australia, where he enhanced his reputation further by providing solid starts in partnership with Virender Sehwag, his Delhi team-mate.
Although he failed to cross the 50-mark in the four Tests against Australia, he showed enough patience to spend valuable time in the middle, see off the new ball and build a solid platform from which the strong middle order could elevate India to greater heights. He also proved to be an outstanding close-in fielder, invoking comparisons with the legendary Eknath Solkar. Unfortunately, the advent of Yuvraj Singh as a match-turning batsman on the tour of Pakistan in 2004 meant that Chopra was relegated to the status of squad player. He was dropped from the team after an unimpressive performance in the home series against Australia in 2004. Three years since, he was picked to open for India A in the unofficial Tests against South Africa. In the only completed match against South Africa A, he scored an unbeaten double century. The 2007-08 season continued to be prosperous for Chopra: 783 runs in Delhi's title-winning Ranji Trophy campaign; 332 runs at a whopping 332.00, with three hundreds at a strike-rate above 100, in the one-day version; 310 runs in the Duleep Trophy, helping North to victory. Chopra was then signed on by Kolkata Knight Riders.
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