Prashant Chopra could not have started his Ranji Trophy season in a better way. He scored his maiden triple ton in First-Class cricket, that too on his birthday and also scored 271 on day one — the second most scored by a player on a single day in Ranji. He also became the third cricketer in history of the game to score a triple ton on his birthday after Colin Cowdrey (1962) and Raman Lamba (1995).
“It required a lot of patience because when you are batting on 150-160 then your intentions are to hit over the top. But in this entire innings of 363 balls, I hit only two lofted shots and those were the two sixes that I hit. I have not played like this in my career so far; not playing the lofted shots. The first time I lofted the ball I was on 46 to get past 50 and that was a six and again I lofted the ball after going past 300,” Chopra said.
Chopra also credited coach Vikram Rathour for helping him during the knock and asking him to carry on with the bat.
“Vikram Rathour sir is our coach this year. He has been talking to me. His message to me was to carry on (batting). At lunch (on Day 1) I was not out on 84. He told me, ‘I want to see your double hundred today.’ He told me to play normally and I followed his instructions. When I came back to the dressing room at Tea (Day 1) on 180 not out, he told me that he wanted a triple hundred from me from that situation.”
Rathour, who is HPCA director of cricket for the current season, explained what he instructed the opening batsman of Himachal Pradesh.
“Prashant bats in a flow and when he starts playing his shots, he overdoes it at times. He is an extremely talented player who, at times starts finding it too easy, so I was just giving him different challenges. I gave him a challenge to score runs with singles in a particular session. I asked him to if he can do that? In one session it was about not playing the pull shot as they were trying to set him up by bowling the short ball. So, I told him I want to see him not falling into that trap and it worked.”
Himachal Pradesh were put under pressure early when Punjab pacer Sandeep Sharma removed Nikhil Gangta but Chopra got his head down. He scored runs at a quick pace.
“Their plan was to get me off the strike and not let me score runs by bowling a bit wide. So, they were attacking and they got two wickets in the first three overs. They wanted to get me off the strike and attack the other batsman. But I was okay with that. I had no intentions of hitting them. It was a fresh day. Though I was batting on 271, I was thinking that I was on 71 so I need to make the most of it and I was counting each and every run. Even after 300, I was thinking I was on zero,” explained Chopra.
Chopra also threw light on his 133-run partnership with Ankush Bains and credited him for easing the pressure.
“After losing two wickets in the morning, the pressure was on us again. He batted at No. 6 instead of his usual opening spot. He came in and was hitting the ball well. He played really good shots and that helped me. I could actually take my time and didn’t have to worry as he maintained the flow of runs. What matters is that there are runs on the board and that helped.”
But, what motivated him the most was when Rathour campared his stroke-making with with former Indian opener Virender Sehwag.
“I’ve seen some of Sehwag’s brilliant knocks in domestic and international cricket and this knock really reminded me of him. I have been around for more than 25 years now but never been in a game where 460 runs (459 for 2) were scored on the first day in a Ranji Trophy game. This was an outstanding innings that he played and against a good attack. All the three guys (Manpreet Gony, Sandeep Sharma and Barinder Sran) have played for India. Some of the shots he played actually reminded me of Viru.”