Akash brightens chances with century

  • Nilankur Das, PTI, Visakhapatnam
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 30, 2003 21:22 IST

Showing tremendous match temperament, focus and concentration, Delhi opener Akash Chopra scored an unbeaten hundred to enhance his reputation of being a hot contender for a opener's slot in the Indian team.

Akash's hundred and Yuvraj Singh's entertaining batting will not stand the scrutiny of a critic’s harsh eye as the wicket was excruciatingly slow and there was little competitive interest in the match.

But a hundred is a hundred and the Delhi opener showed that despite a long lay-off from the game due to an injury, he has the potential, though, to be taken more seriously, he will have to be tested in much more searing conditions.

Unlike Chopra, Shiv Sundar Das let another golden opportunity go by. He got a chance to bat on Sunday morning, after skipper Virender Sehwag was indisposed and didn't come out. Das went back cheaply scoring just 16.

Chopra, on the other hand, grabbed the opportunity with both hands, remaining unbeaten on 103 when play was called off on the 10th mandatory over the moment Chopra reached his ton with a boundary past mid-wicket.

Yuvraj remained unbeaten on 80 with the Board President's XI total at 227 for one as the practice match against New Zealand at the ACA-VDCA Stadium ended in a predictable draw.

Play started late on the third and final day after the entire second day's play was washed out on Saturday thereby ruling out any possibility of the Kiwi batsmen getting a look in. But their bowlers did, and though the spinning duo Daniel Vettori and Paul Wiseman got some turn from the wicket, it was too slow and low to bother the batsmen. They bowled more than 50 overs between themselves without success.

Chopra started sedately, generally trying to get a feel of the wicket. Playing his first match in five months after a ligament tear kept him out following Delhi's Ranji semi-final against Tamil Nadu, he reached his 50 just after tea facing 181 balls. His second 50 though came up much quicker as the bright sunshine helped to dry up the outfield. Chopra hit just five boundaries in his first ton against a touring team which he dedicated to his family and coach Tarak Sinha. "I am looking forward to playing as well in Rajkot," Chopra, who is the only players to be selected for both the President's XI and the India A, told reporters after the match.

After Das' dismissal, Yuvraj Singh was sent in ahead of VVS Laxman and immediately skipper Stephen Fleming introduced his offie Paul Wiseman from the far end. The ploy almost worked. Straight away bowling round the wicket at the left-hander, Wiseman forced a front-foot push of Yuvraj in his second ball that went straight at Scott Styris at silly point. But the Kiwi allrounder somehow messed it up. And that was all what Yuvraj needed. He settled down nicely playing his strokes all around the park, but still runs were difficult to come by.

The Kiwi ground fielding was exceptional and even if a stroke pierced the infield, the outfield was so slow that the ball managed to cross the rope only once in the whole of the first two sessions.

Yuvraj, changed gear and picked up Vettori over the mid-wicket boundary for a couple of neat six into the stands, the first of which also brought up the team's 100. His first boundary off Styris, who replaced Butler at the near end, was the third of a series of smartly played extra-cover drives. The other two after beating the infield stopped short of the ropes.



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