“He (Aakash Chopra) was one of the best opening batsmen produced by the country”
You may be taken aback, but these are the words of Sanjay Patel, former BCCI secretary on the day Aakash Chopra announced his retirement from international cricket.
But your astonishment isn’t unjustified. After all, Chopra managed to play only 10 Tests, scoring a paltry 437 runs. But numbers do lie. Or in this case, they tell only half the truth.
While many know about his successful career behind the mic, not many know that Aakash is one of the most underrated openers produced by India. Domestically, Chopra has over 10,000 runs while playing for Delhi, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. His patient style of play suited his technique and made him a good choice for opening in test cricket.
But how did this promising cricketer’s career wane away so prematurely? Here’s the other half…
42 (as of 2019)
Date of Birth
September 19, 1977
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Five feet four inches
Right-arm medium, Right-arm off break
India, Delhi, Kolkata Knight Riders
Aakash Chopra Biography
Aakash was born on 19 September 1977 in Agra. His father’s name is Shyam Lal Chopra. Aakash travelled to Delhi with his family at a young age. He was an ardent sports lover from an early age.
His first bat, a Vats Hot Shot worth Rs 450 (a significant amount at that time), was unfortunately snatched by a thug during a bus ride. The incident, however, did not deter him to give up on the sport. He kept on practising and ultimately made it Delhi at Under-16 team. He was then selected for India School Boys’ tour to the West Indies in 1995.
The right-handed batsman then started his cricket journey when he joined Sonnet Cricket Club. He opened the innings for the Delhi-based cricket team. Chopra also represented the Delhi Under-19 side. With time, he soon went on to play for the North Zone.
Aakash Chopra Career
Aakash Chopra made his List-A debut for Delhi in 1996/97 and his First-Class cricket debut in 1997/98. During 1997 Ranji season, the right-handed batsman scored 422 runs at an average of 70.33 while scoring two centuries.
This stellar performance helped him to get selected for North Zone. He featured in one Duleep Trophy match and notched half-centuries in both the innings which helped him to carve his name at the domestic level.
Representing North Zone he managed to score 231 runs in four matches in Deodhar Trophy 2002 at an average of 77. His domestic form was scaling up as he counted 425 runs in 7 innings at an average of 60.71 for Delhi in Vijay Hazare Trophy, 2008.
After playing for Delhi throughout his career, Aakash later joined Rajasthan as a guest player in Ranji Plate division. In 2010/11 and 2011/12, Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy and became the number one Plate division team. He has scored more than 10,000 runs in domestic career while playing for Delhi, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
Aakash Chopra’s prolific performance in the domestic circuit grabbed the attention of selectors. He received a maiden call to play against New Zealand in Ahmedabad in 2003.
Chopra impressed everyone in the test series against New Zealand. He scored 31 and 42 in the first test and 52 and 60 in the second.
This performance ensured he got picked for the historic tour of Australia in 2003/04. Chopra was used as a bait batsman. Somebody who can play off the new ball and remove the shine so that the middle order dominate later on.
His primary function was to see off the new ball. Thus he built a solid platform that worked in coalition with Virender Sehwag. While Chopra saw of the new ball, Sehwag whacked the leather of the ball at the other end.
While Aakash scored 182 runs in 8 innings, he was vital in his new role as a bait batsman as India came close to win a series down under. In the next series against Pakistan, he scored 96 in two matches.
His final two test matches for India came in the home series of Border-Gavaskar series as he merely put together 15 runs in 5 innings.
His lack of huge scores and non-aggressive approach made the Indian selectors look for options, which they found in Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif. However, Chopra worked on his game, and three long years later, he got called for India A’s tour of South Africa. He scored an unbeaten double century.
Aakash Copra IPL
After domestic success with Rajasthan, Aakash git a chance to play in the shortest format of cricket through the Indian Premier League (IPL). He was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the first season.
In the first season, he featured in seven matches, scoring meagre 53 runs at a strike rate of 74.64 with the highest score of 24. He was not selected for IPL season 2 which was hosted in South Africa due to fitness issue. In IPL 4, he penned a contract with Rajasthan Royals (RR).
After failing to accomplish the big name with the bat in an aggressive dominated competition, Chopra realised that this wasn’t his cup of tea and took the decision to retire from all forms of the game in 2015.
Aakash Chopra Stats
Short leg Fielding
If you are a true cricket fan, you must know how difficult the position of short leg is. But Aakash made it look very easy. Aakash was famous as an amazing close infielder and in his career held on to some stellar catches at that position.
At moments, he even drew comparisons with the renowned Eknath Solkar who is considered as one of the best fielders of the position in cricket.
While announcing his retirement Chopra said: “I have always been very proud of my fielding, but I dropped a couple of catches in the slips in what turned out to be my last first-class game.”
What he says next not only exudes his passion for fielding but also shows how much he respected the game.
“I was the captain of the side and had to take myself off, from that position. That’s when I felt it’s not right, perhaps the time has come. If I am not able to take catches in slips, then perhaps I am a bit of a liability,” Chopra says about the moment where he realised it was time to hang his boots.
Entering the world of commentary
Many of you may know that the word ‘Aakash’ in Hindi, means sky. Deciphering it a bit more, ‘Aakash’ ascends hope, allows opportunities to be polished and to deliver key messages. If all words above states true, Aakash Chopra, suits in the above criteria, first as a cricketer and now as a voice heard at every game of cricket.
After having seen his playing career end prematurely, Aakash Chopra instead replaced the willow with a mic and rest is history. Just as he played with balls, the 42-year-old also plays cleverly with the words to engross the audience with an in-depth analysis of the game.
Today, Aakash Chopra is now a well-known analyst, commentator and author who loves to spread knowledge of the game to the millions. Courtesy: His know-how of the game, the Uttar Pradesh man has struck a chord with cricket fans, who have been his followers on social media as well.
Aakash Chopra is one of those rare personalities, who have the ability to influence the minds of cricket lovers and drawing a reaction, something that many can only dream of. And last but not least, his one-liners have never failed to entertain you.
Despite being overcritical of players some times, Aakash is one of the most popular commentators. Currently, he works as a commentator as well as an analyst with Star Sports.
He has also worked for Channel 7 in Australia. Aakash’s Hindi commentary is being loved by many these days. The energetic tone, high-vocabulary makes the dialect more interesting.
More than a game
One can say he is a multi-talented man. Aakash Chopra is well-known for his deep Gyaan in the game. He has expressed the same in his two praised books namely: Beyond the Blues: A First-Class Season Like No Other (based on 2007-08) and Out of the Blue: Rajasthan’s Road to the Ranji Trophy.
The former opening batsman has also published another book named ‘The Insider’. He has also written special columns for leading media houses such as Hindustan Times and EspnCricinfo.
His articles have also been published in famous books like Rahul Dravid: Timeless Steel and Sachin Tendulkar: The man cricket loved back.
Aakash Chopra Wife
Aakash Chopra married Aakshi Chopra on 2 December 2009. Aakshi was born in Delhi on 14 October. She is a content producer, street photographer and a blogger. She has also appeared on his Youtube show Aakashvani. The couple has completed ten years of marriage and have two daughters-Aarna and Akhira.
- Aakash’s first job came when he was allied with Hindustan Times.
- He maintained his diary in his childhood. He once revealed, “As a kid, I maintained a diary, basically pointers. That included if I heard the coach giving some tips to the other players, I noted that as well.”
- Virender Sehwag and Aakash Chopra scored 897 runs together at an average of 47.21. They partnered to four-century stands and two fifty-run partnerships.
- He has written two books: Beyond the Blues: A First-Class Season Like No Other (based on 2007-08); Out of the Blue: Rajasthan’s Road to the Ranji Trophy.
- He has articles published in Rahul Dravid: Timeless Steel and Sachin Tendulkar: The man cricket loved back.
- Aakash Vlogs various analysis of the Cricket on his YoutTube channel. The show is known as Aakashvani.
Paid nearly 7 Lac for a meal ???? Welcome to Indonesia ??? pic.twitter.com/LYySPXPN3c
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) July 15, 2018