Triple tonner ready to go international

Chandigarh
A record-breaking 338 by Prashant Chopra against Punjab shows that he has matured as a batsman and his selection for the India A team is well justified.

Chopra, who was unbeaten on 271 on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy match on Friday, today became the first batsman from Himachal Pradesh to score a triple century in first-class cricket. The previous best for Himachal was Rajeev Nayyar’s 271 against Jammu and Kashmir in 1999.

“I want to score runs in this season also so that my previous year’s performance is not seen as a fluke,” Chopra, celebrating his 25th birthday today, said a day before the start of the Ranji Trophy season.

The call for India A seems to have come at the right time for Chopra as it has raised his confidence level. “Getting a call for India A is a great confidence-booster before the start of a fresh season. It’s a good opportunity and I am looking to make the most it,” he said.

Chopra’s 363-ball innings against Punjab was studded with 44 hits to fence and two huge sixes.

“Now, I have the confidence that the selectors are looking at my performance… It is a good booster,” said Chopra, who had scored 978 runs at a healthy average of 57.52 last season.

Asked whether the call for India A was a bit late as he has been on the fringes in the last few years, Chopra chose to play with a straight bat: “No, I don’t think so. It was actually the right time.”

“I have been there and about, with my performance. I played for India U-23 in 2013, but after that my performance was not something which could have surprised anyone,” said Chopra, whose father is an NIS-certified cricket coach.

Performance pays
“But yes, one or two seasons earlier I could have done better,” he added. “But the delay was from my side, if I could have given such a performance in the past, I might have got a call earlier.”

Chopra was part of India’s U-19 World Cup winning-team in 2012. In his first-class career, he has amassed 2,654 runs with seven hundreds and 10 half-centuries.

On the prospect of working with Rahul Dravid, the India A coach, Chopra said: “Being part of his team feels great. It is a big opportunity. He can help one reach the next level.”

Chopra will be in the India A squad for the fourth and fifth limited-overs matches against New Zealand A, to be played on October 13 and 15 in Visakhapatnam.

Going international
How does he look at the prospect of facing New Zealand? “As a cricketer you need to set your standards, this is the way I play my game,” he said. “The preparation remains the same. The only difference is the mental set-up when you go one step ahead. How strong you are mentally makes the difference when you are playing for India or India A.”

Chopra’s selection for India A came after the selectors watched him in the Duleep Trophy, in which he played for India Green “We played two games, one was a wash-out. I scored 65 against India Red, out of the team total of 157,” Chopra said. “That knock gave me confidence, because it is the Duleep Trophy and you are playing some of the top bowlers of the country.”

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