Anjum Chopra: A multi-talented sportsperson who went to become one of the legends in Indian women’s cricket
Anjum Chopra was a basketball player, state-level swimmer and one of the best-ever batswoman in Indian women’s cricket history © Getty Images

 

Anjum Chopra, born May 20, 1977, was a fearless left-hander who was influential in some of India’s most memorable victories. Along with the likes of Mithali Raj, Anjum has galvanised women’s cricket in India. Sudatta Mukherjee looks back at the life of Anjum, who rekindled memories of David Gower with her stylish batting.

 

 

Anjum Chopra grew up in a cricketing ambience. Her maternal grandfather was a cricket commentator, one of her maternal uncles went on to play for India A, and her brother was an Under-17 and Under-19 cricketer for Delhi. Hailing from a family full of sportsperson (her father was a golfer and mother a car rallyist), it was natural that Anjum deviated towards sports. She played basketball and was a state-level swimmer, though cricket remained her first love. But that is not all about the former captain of India’s women team. She has a MBA degree and has also co-authored a book on women’s cricket. She also appeared in a popular TV reality show and is a familiar face on Indian television, talking about international men’s cricket.

 

 

Glorious start to a stylish career

 

In four of the first five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) she got to bat against New Zealand in 1995, Anjum was made to come way down the lower order. But in her sixth ODI, against England at Patna the same year, she was promoted to bat No 3. She grabbed the opportunity and scored 31. In the very next match she scored a much needed half-century, which was followed by another gritty half-century in the next match. Anjum had finally sealed her position up in the batting order. However, she was a slow starter. In the fourth ODI against England, she used 129 balls to score unbeaten 50 and in the fifth ODI, she scored an unbeaten 56 from 124 balls.

 

 

When India toured England in 1999, she scored 52 in the first ODI and a century in the second ODI. India trounced England 4-1 in the series at their own backyard. In both matches, Anjum was declared the ECB Player of the match.

 

Her consistent performance for India, earned her the captaincy. In 2003, when New Zealand toured India, under her leadership, she and Mithali Raj trounced the Kiwis 4-1. Anjum’s partnership with Jaya Sharma and Mithali Raj in the fourth ODI was one of the reasons India dominated the visitors.

 

 

Anjum Chopra: A multi-talented sportsperson who went to become one of the legends in Indian women’s cricket
Anjum Chopra… stylish and effective at the batting crease © Getty Images

 

 

 

Controversies

 

Anjum did not enjoy a warm relationship with Anju Jain, a veteran in the team. Anjum feels, she was left out of the team many a times because of Anju.

 

“It seems Anju [now coach of the Indian women’s team] still has the grudge that I was made the captain ahead of her in 2002-03. Probably, she is taking her revenge now. Or else, how does one justify that only captain is dropped after a failurebut everyone else remains?”  she had said in an interview to Times of India last year.

 

Anjum was replaced by Mithali.

 

Anjum has played four World Cups. Only Karon Rolton (Australia) and Charlotte Edwards (England) having figured in that many World Cups.

 

Like the legendary Diana Edulji, Anjum was thought good enough to play alongside men. In 2012, Anjum spent small time at the Kolkata Knight Riders’ nets.

 

Anjum Chopra: A multi-talented sportsperson who went to become one of the legends in Indian women’s cricket
Anjum Chopra was an excellent fielder too © Getty Images

 

Anjum was roped in by the South African cricket management committee prior to the World Cup in India in an advisory role.

 

In 2004, Anjum participated in a popular Indian TV reality show
Khatron ke Khiladi
. Soon she was seen as hosts and guests in IPL’s extra innings show. Her knowledge about the game made sure that even after her cricketing career is over, her relationship with cricket was not severed.

 

In a Test career spanning more than a decade [between 1995 to 2006], Anjum played just 12 Tests and scored 548 runs at an average of 30 plus, with four fifties  and a top score of 98. Her One-Day International career lasted longer [from 1995 to 2012], during which she played 127 games, amassed 2856 runs at 31-plus, and scored one hundred and 18 half-centuries.

 

Anjum is truly one of the legends in Indian women’s cricket.

 

(Sudatta Mukherjee claims to be a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. She is affable, crazy and a wannabe writer. Her Twitter ID is @blackrosegal. Oh yes! You do know her!)