Aakash Chopra set to play for IPL Kolkata team

March 1st, 2008 - 6:10 pm ICT by admin  

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Delhi opening batsman Aakash Chopra, who is going through the form of his life, is set to play for Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata team in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) starting next month. “The contract is more or less final. I only have to sign the contract to complete the formalities,” Chopra, 30, told IANS here Saturday.

Chopra, who has played 10 Tests, is in sublime form these days and has so far scored 1,570 runs in domestic tournaments and for India ‘A’. Extending his form to one-day matches, Chopra scored 130 off 140 balls, including 18 boundaries, against Punjab in the Ranji Trophy north zone one-day championship here Thursday.

He came very close to being picked for the four-Test series in Australia, but the selectors instead chose his Delhi captain Virender Sehwag for his past record against Australia.

Now, it will be difficult for the selectors to keep the prolific Chopra away for the three-match home Test series against South Africa starting in Chennai March 26.

Chopra’s coach Tarak Sinha was happy at his ward venturing into the shortest but the most popular form of the game.

“It’s a good move on his part. He has changed his batting style to suit shorter versions of the game and I am sure he will succeed in Twenty20 too,” Sinha, a former national women’s team coach, told IANS.

“You have to change and adapt with the times and he has adapted to the demands of the fast changing game. Anyone who plays with a straight bat will succeed in any form of cricket, and he plays straight.”

Chopra is obviously a happy person these days.

“Everything seems to falling in place for me. I got a central contract with the board late last year and now I am going through the best form of my life. I have never scored so many runs consistently in my life before,” he said as he watched Delhi play Himachal Pradesh in the Ranji tournament here Saturday.

Chopra took his non-selection from the Australian tour in his stride and is looking forward to the South Africa series.

“My job is to score runs, which I am doing. Selection is the job of the selectors. I am keeping my fingers crossed,” he said.

Chopra last year turned down the offer to play in the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) - and apparently a big sum. Now he has the last laugh.

A technically sound batsman from the old school, Chopra’s desire to remain with official cricket could perhaps fetch him more money now than what he would have received from the Subhash Chandra promoted ICL.

“God is watching everything,” he said and laughed.

And, now, the diminutive right-hander is set to play his first Twenty20 match for IPL, which is organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and authorised by the International Cricket Council.

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