Himachal birthday boy Prashant Chopra smashes 338 vs Punjab in Ranji Trophy
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Himachal birthday boy Prashant Chopra smashes 338 vs Punjab in Ranji Trophy

Prashant Chopra scored 338 runs for Himachal Pradesh in a Ranji Trophy match against Punjab in Dharamsala.

cricket Updated: Oct 07, 2017 19:39 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Prashant Chopra,Ranji Trophy,Indian cricket team
Prashant Chopra scored 338 for Himachal Pradesh against Punjab in a Ranji Trophy match on Saturday.(HT Photo)

As Prashant Chopra exulted and raised his bat on completing a 318-ball knock of 300 runs against Punjab in the opening Group D Ranji Trophy match at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on Saturday morning, Harbhajan Singh gave him a standing ovation sitting in the opposition dressing room.

The 25-year-old opening batsman entered the record books by becoming the first ever Himachal Pradesh batsman to score a triple hundred in Ranji Trophy and also the highest scorer for the hill state. Prashant surpassed the knock of 271 runs scored by Rajeev Nayyar against Jammu and Kashmir in 1999.

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Prashant completed his first triple century on his 25th birthday. Colin Cowdrey had scored a triple century on his 30th birthday in 1962 while Raman Lamba was another batsman who scored a triple century on his birthday, 35th in his case, in 1995.

Prashant eventually got caught and bowled by off-spinner Pargat Singh for 338 (363 balls, 44x4, 2x6) and ended with a strike rate of 93.11 on the second day of the game.

On Day 1, Prashant, who is based in Chandigarh, had scored an unbeaten 271 off 289 balls. Despite a green top and star studded Punjab bowling line-up (Manpreet Gony, Sandeep Sharma, Barinder Sran), the Himachal batsman went on to bat with confidence and control and pummelled the bowlers at will.

Himachal Pradesh batsman Prashant Chopra on completing his double hundred against Punjab at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on Friday. (HT Photo)

Speaking to Hindustan Times from Dharamsala after the first day, Prashant said, “Once my eyes were set in, I was in complete control. I played cautiously initially and when I was comfortable, I punished the loose balls. It was good to score 271 runs in a single day. My eyes are now fixed on triple hundred.

“I had scored 237 against Haryana and 194 against Goa last Ranji season. But 300 is a very, very special figure and hope it helps me get me a berth in the Indian team soon. The 300-run club is an exclusive one and has the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, VVS Laxman, Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Merchant etc. If I score 300, it will be for the selectors, to make my presence felt at the domestic circuit.”

After winning the toss and opting to bat, Himachal scored 459/2 on Day 1 and went on to score a mammoth 729/8 declared in 148 overs in their first innings.

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Prashant was also part of the India Green team in Duleep Trophy and will be playing for India A in the last two one-days against the New Zealand A team in Visakhapatnam.

Best birthday

“Bhajji paaji is an inspiration. He was very happy for me. Although he is not playing the match, he came up to me to congratulate me and told me to score 300 runs. I use the Bhajji Sports bat along with the kit,” said a beaming Prashant on Friday evening.

The knock of 271, which included 37 boundaries and a six, is the second highest individual score in a single day by an Indian batsman in first-class cricket and was just six short of Bhausaheb Nimbalkar’s 277, the most runs made by a batsman in a day during a Ranji Trophy match. Nimbalkar, playing for Maharashtra, went on to make an unbeaten 443 in the same match against Kathiawar in Pune in the 1948-49 season.

Prashant Chopra is also part of the India A squad. (HT Photo)

Prashant is the son of cricket coach Shiv Chopra, an NIS qualified coach who trains young wards at the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium in Chandigarh.

“I will never forget this knock and my 25th birthday. It is certainly the best one. It would be cherry on the cake if we win the Ranji opener against Punjab. I would like to carry forward my form to the India A matches,” said Prashant after the second day’s play. In reply to Himachal’s daunting first innings total, Punjab were 110/1 at stumps and trail by 619 runs.

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Prashant, who was born in Solan, was also part of the Unmukt Chand-led India U-19 team which won the World Cup in Australia in 2012. He made his first-class debut against Kerala at Nadaun the same year.

“It is just the opening match of the season. I am sure more tons are on the way for Prashant. Punjab is a good team. Scoring a triple hundred against them is a big thing. I hope he repeats the performance when he plays for India A against the Kiwis,” said Shiv Chopra.

First Published: Oct 07, 2017 14:12 IST