HYDERABAD: Pragyan Ojha can relate to the adage ‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain’. He was axed from the Indian team when probably in his prime, and has since struggled to reclaim his spot in the squad.
It was Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell Test in November 2013 at Mumbai, and the left-arm spinner was part of that historical moment. In fact, he was Man of the Match after scalping 10 wickets. But that proved to be his last international appearance. How does one explain his exclusion? It’s a question that has bewildered the man himself.
“You don’t know how to react to certain situations. But maybe being a cricketer with mastery over only one department is not enough nowadays,” Ojha told Express.
The 30-year-old was one of the fastest Indian bowlers to 100 Test wickets, and formed a potent partnership with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. But since his departure, another left-arm spinner, Ravindra Jadeja, has cemented his place in the team.
“I’m happy for Jadeja. He has done well for himself and the team. And this kind of competition keeps you on your toes. That’s what I’ve learned in this phase. You can see success and hit rock-bottom.”
Despite being labelled as a bowler whose game suits five-day cricket, Ojha has proven credentials in the shortest format. He is the only spinner to finish with the purple cap in the IPL. But then, as fate would have it, Ojha hasn’t been part of the event for the last two years.
“Not bagging IPL contracts wasn’t a worry. But you long for opportunities that help you rub shoulders with the best players. In that respect, it would’ve been nice to get a contract.”
Ojha, who shifted base to Bengal, did not have a path-breaking year in terms of numbers in the recent domestic season. But he was satisfied with his bowling. “The move to Bengal was rational, as I got to face tougher teams and batsmen. So that helped improve my bowling,” he noted.
“The Vijay Hazare Trophy was good, as I picked up 15 wickets. But in the Ranji Trophy, I don’t have wickets to show. Having said that, I thought I was bowling well.
Sometimes, you bowl well but don’t have wickets to show. Also, this year we were playing with four fast bowlers throughout, as pitches were conducive to them. But overall, I was satisfied with the way I bowled.”
The bowler, not surprisingly, is looking to make a comeback. And a stint in county cricket is on the cards.
“I want to continue playing competitively, so plan to play in England. But that might happen in the later half of the championship. I’m in talks with some teams, and let’s see what’s in store,” he concluded.