Former India opener Aakash Chopra scored heavily in domestic cricket for more than a decade but failed to replicate the same performance in international cricket. In fact, he managed to play just 10 Tests and after his constant failures to score big, he was finally dropped from the team after the home series against Australia in 2004.
He never earned another recall although he kept scoring heavily in first-class cricket. The former cricketer-turned-commentator, who opened the innings alongside the legendary Virender Sehwag, recently opened up about his short international career.
In a recent with Gaurav Kapur on his ’22 Yarns’ Podcast uploaded on Spotify, Aakash Chopra talked about how self-aware and honest Sehwag was about his game, and knew exactly where his strengths and weaknesses were.
“His (Sehwag) strength is that he is brutally honest about what he could and couldn’t do. Even with all the bravado and aggression and ‘Viru’ style of playing, you won’t remember him actually taking on a bouncer. Now that’s discipline,” Aakash Chopra said.
“That tells you loads about what’s behind that exterior, that facade that we see, which is carefree, happy-go-lucky, see the ball hit the ball. He’s seen a bouncer, and he hasn’t attempted it in 8,000 Test runs. So that kind of discipline, understanding, and conviction in his own game was unbelievable.
“He would tell you, ‘Yaar ball zyada swing ho raha hai, aaj mera nahi chalega, tu wahi reh (ball is swinging too much, my shots won’t work),’ knowing fully well ke ‘ye meri strength nai hai (today is not my day)’. See, understanding your strengths and weaknesses is very important. Knowing what you can, and more importantly, can’t do. He knew that ‘abhi ball swing ho raha hai, phas jaunga. Chod na, abhi 5-7 over nikal jayenge to achha hi hai (Ball is swinging now, I will get stuck. Let us stick out 5-7 overs in the middle)’. He knew that if he stays there then he can put them to the sword,” he added.
Sehwag’s advice for Aakash Chopra:
Aakash Chopra further recalled how Sehwag was honest to him about his performances and kept advising him to play a big innings for India.
“He would come and tell me, ‘Chopraji ye 40-40 run maar rahe ho drop ho jaoge team se. Set hone ke baad out hone se koi khelta nahi hai aage (Chopra ji, you are scoring 40-40 scores, would be dropped from the team. No one stays in the team if he gets out after settling down).’ And he would also say the same thing about himself,” Aakash Chopra recalled.
Sehwag was indeed right as Aakash Chopra was soon dropped from the side and failed to break it into the team again. In his 10-Test career, he scored 437 runs with the help of a couple of fifties.
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