Anjum Chopra was India’s premier batswoman. She chose cricket as her profession at the time when many didn’t know that women’s cricket existed. The veteran shone and took India women’s cricket forward in the early 2000s. Well, now, she is a renowned cricket commentator. Reminiscing her good old days, Anjum has shared an interesting story of the 1997 World Cup when India was near to lose the opening match of the event because no one knew the way to the ground.
Anjum Chopra opines that the women cricketers faced unequal treatment from the Indian board. During the World Cup 1997 as well, India women’s team was made to stay in the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association. And then a problem folded in front of the team when they left to play the first match against Sri Lanka.
“During the 1997 World Cup, we were staying at DLTA – Delhi Lawn Tennis Association. We were the poor cousins of million-dollar babies so we were accommodated wherever there was no rent or any other cheap option. We were to play a match against Sri Lanka, our first match [of the tournament] at Feroz Shah Kotla,” Chopra said on the YouTube show ‘22 Yarns’ with Gaurav Kapur.
Anjum Chopra Recalls India Was Nearly To Lose A World Cup Match Because No One Knew Way To Feroz Shah Kotla
India was set to play the opener match in Feroz Shah Kotla but surprisingly, no one knew the way to the ground even the bus driver also. Anjum Chopra, who was a Delhi resident, also was also not well acquainted with the route.
“So, we got on the bus and left for the stadium [in the morning], and we knew the play won’t start on time because it was raining. After about 10-12 minutes – I was sitting at the back – someone from the front called for the Delhi residents. And when I got to the front, I was told that the driver doesn’t know the route to Feroz Shah Kotla! I knew the way, but only from my place.”
For half an hour, the bus kept circling around the same location. It created whole chaos but thankfully the bad weather supported the team.
“I thought I was the only most knowledgeable person because everybody else, apart from Anju Jain and I, were not from Delhi. So, I was helping the driver with the route, who was using his own ‘internal GPS’ as well. After about half an hour, we came back to Sarojini Nagar [just one-kilometre from DLTA]. We were circling around Sarojini Nagar and South Extension and after half an hour again we were back in the same place,” Anjum Chpra said.
It was raining that day in Delhi and the match got delayed. Anjum Chopra explained that the captain and vice-captain need to be in the ground as per the scheduled time. So, the captain Pramila Bhatt managed a taxi to reach the stadium right in the nick of time.
“Now the toss was scheduled for 8.30am, so the captain should at least reach the stadium. And by 8.35, we were only moving in circles. Everyone else had reached the stadium and you can actually be declared as giving a walkover, [even if it’s raining] your team management and captain need to be there on the ground,” Chopra said.
“So apparently, the captain and the vice-captain got off halfway through and took a taxi. And as it turned out, even the taxi driver didn’t know the way to Feroz Shah Kotla,” she added.
Chopra said that they reached half an hour late but the match was delayed because of rain. So, there was no harm but if it would have not been raining, Sri Lanka would have been awarded. Also, the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
“I don’t know how we managed to reach the stadium but when we did, my parents, who had come to watch the game even though it was raining, were standing outside with a big smile on their face. And then the first thing we were told was, ‘Please go straight to the dressing rooms and don’t tell anyone that you have just reached’. We reached there at 9.05am.”
Anjum Chopra retired from the international cricket in 2012 after representing India in 127 ODIs, 18 T20Is and 12 Test matches, scoring 2856, 241, 548 runs respectively.