Prashant Chopra- The latest entrant into the 300-run club
The 84th edition of India's domestic competition, the Ranji Trophy kicked off on the 6th of October 2017 with 24 teams going head to head across various cities in India. Since its inception, the Ranji trophy has played host to some fabulous talent and has given youngsters a platform to shine and make a mark early in their careers.
With the emphasis laid on grooming prospective talents for the future, the tournament has also hosted a galaxy of stars who often rub off their confidence on the young talent in their squad. However, it does not stop there.
Every year, a new superstar in the making is unleashed, paving way for them to move ahead in their careers and one day don the national colours.
However, one man has already stamped his authority early into the season and how. Himachal Pradesh skipper Sumeet Verma won the toss and opted to bat first on a lush green surface.
Opening the batting for Himachal Pradesh, Prashant Chopra decimated the Punjab bowlers and stroke his way to a scintillating triple century to knock the wind out of the sails of the Punjab bowlers.
Chopra carried on from where he left off from last season when he amassed a whopping 978 runs and also penned his name down as the record holder for 'The most runs in a single Ranji season for Himachal Pradesh'.
Delightful strokeplay on Day 1
Having to open the innings against the new ball on a seaming track is a tough task. Having to do it against an attack featuring the likes of Barinder Sran, Manpreet Gony and Sandeep Sharma only makes it tougher.
However, all of this did not matter to Chopra as he craftily nudged the ball in the gaps and hit over the top with ease to milk runs with ease. It was a matter of perseverance and grit on a hot and humid day that got Chopra to his milestone.
On Day 1 of the contest, Chopra made his way to 271 off just 289 balls and laced his innings with delightful cover drives and deft touches to get singles and doubles with ease. With the 271-run knock, the opener equalled the highest domestic score by a batsman from a hill state, a record that Rajeev Nayyar held for Jammu and Kashmir since 1999.
Right through the day's play, Prashant displayed tremendous patience and played the ball on its merit, displaying shadows of the great Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar to good credit.
Unfortunately, Chopra fell agonisingly short of the record for most runs in a day's place, 277 held by Bhausaheb Nimbalkar who got to the feat while playing for Maharashtra in 1948-49.
Nonetheless, Chopra's 271 had done enough to put him into the spotlight as the social media went gaga over the opener's rare feat. With three more days left to play after the first day, a lot was expected of the right-hander.
A birthday to remember
Prashant arrived at the crease for the second day's play unbeaten on 271 from 289 balls. Fresh from his feat the previous day, a single helped Prashant register the highest score by a Himachal Pradesh batsman, having been tied on 271 at stumps on the previous day.
The tall right-hander continued with the same positive approach and the moment finally arrived, that too on his 25th birthday. A nudge for a single was all it required and off came the helmet as Chopra soaked in all the applause.
Such was his achievement that Harbhajan Singh, who was not playing the match, got to his feet and gave Chopra a standing ovation, one that he richly deserved.
The moment was unforgettable. To score a triple century at such a huge level on his birthday and on his home ground, the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala was only the icing on the cake.
After a wonderful knock of 338(363 balls, 44x4, 2x6), Chopra fell to off-spinner Parghat Singh, who accepted a simple return catch. Chopra walked off to thundering applause as he had not only etched his name in the record books, he had also taken HP to a position of dominance.
Consistent with a hunger for scoring runs
Son of Himachal Pradesh's U-16 coach Shiv Chopra, Prashant was a part of the Unmukt Chand-led Indian team that clinched the ICC U-19 World Cup in Australia. The same year, he debuted for HP against Kerala in the Ranji trophy.
Not just this season, the opener starred for Himachal Pradesh last season, when he started off with a bang with a well-made 117 in the season opener against Andhra and followed it up with a double century (237 against Haryana) and 194 against Goa that helped him get to 978 runs at the end of the season with 4 half-centuries, one century and one double century to his credit.
Thrilled at his feat, Chopra said that Harbhajan Singh is his major inspiration and the opener felt elated when the turbanator stood on his feet to applaud the triple century.
On the back of consistent performances, Chopra was picked to play for India Green in the Duleep Trophy this year and will also turn out for the India 'A' squad which is set to lock horns with New Zealand 'A' for the last two ODIs of the series. He will hope to don the international colours won day with these performances.