India v West Indies, 1st Test, New Delhi, 1st day November 6, 2011

Playing county cricket has helped me grow - Ojha

ESPNcricinfo staff

Pragyan Ojha, the India left-arm spinner, has said the experience he got playing county cricket in England has helped him adjust to his new status as the senior spinner in India's Test line-up. Ojha has played 11 Tests in total but has not played one since November last year. With both Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra dropped for the first Test against West Indies, he finds himself playing alongside debutant R Ashwin.

"I took it in a positive way," Ojha said of suddenly being given the responsibility of leading India's spin attack. "I spoke to seniors like Anil [Kumble], Harbhajan, Rahul [Dravid] and [VVS] Laxman when I was out of the team and they all advised me to go and play county cricket. When you play there, you are given a lot of responsibility and they expect you to win games for them. That helps you grow as a cricketer. I also played the Irani Trophy where I tried some variations."

Ojha took 24 wickets at an average of 12.95 for Surrey in the County Championship in England over the summer, and marked his return to the India team with figures of 3 for 58 on the first day on a flat Feroz Shah Kotla pitch. He said the wicket was slow and unhelpful for bowlers, and the only way to find success was to stick to your lines.

"The wicket wasn't doing much and it was about sticking to one line, getting the basics right and just testing the patience of the batsmen." He said he had particularly enjoyed his dismissal of Kraigg Brathwaite because he had beaten him in the flight and had him stumped.

Though Ojha kept West Indies in check with his strikes, Shivnarine Chanderpaul's unbeaten century gave West Indies a base from which they can look to push on to a big total on the second day. Ojha said it was a challenge bowling to Chanderpaul but he did think he had him in trouble a couple of times on the sweep shot.

"Chanderpaul is one of the legends of the game and he has played very well here. The amount of experience he has is amazing. I really enjoyed bowling against him and, while he was batting, there were a couple of half-chances while he was sweeping when the ball fell short of square leg. It is a great battle bowling to a legend and hopefully I will get him out."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    what a waste of test cricket.....india bak to what they do.......9 wickets by spinners and opening with spinners.....hahahahahaha......that why they lose overseas

  • Srinivas on November 7, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    India all out for 209. Whoever thought this series is a piece of lettuce in a double cheese burger! Even after the humiliation at the hands of England, we haven't learnt to be humble and respectful of the opposition. Will this be a wakeup call to the so called experts on Cricinfo and the BCCI alike? I say it again, this series is going to be a brute of a contest. Windies bowlers are second to none and their batsmen are hungry, humble and talented. I see people criticising me when I said we can have tough times in this series if we don't remove Shiv. Well, here you go. Thanks to Dravid, we at least crossed 200. Wonderful show from the Windies and dismal show by Indians. Game on.

  • Naresh on November 7, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    I can only eat my words. Here is UMESH YADAV bowling an over that had 140Kph plus all six balls. I had earlier said that Indian bowlers could not keep a consistent 140kph - I have been proved wrong. Although Yadav did not take a 1st innings wicket, he displayed fire and with maturity could be a handful. He will set a new bench mark of bowlers to follow - so that is good news for India. I can imagine him bowling on helpful tracks. OHJA was kept out of that spinners role - left hand spin brings a new dimension to our bowling.

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    @SamRoy. Fully agree with you. Missing golden chance to groom younsters!

  • hayden on November 7, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    well spoken indervidual, and level headed!!! hope he keeps going for indias sake. their ability to take 20 wickets without zaheer hinges on the likes of ojha stepping up. also india need a modest person or 2 around there team once it starts rebuilding. with all the ipl riches for any player close to indian selection its important to have a few players who dont let the money get to their heads and keep the rest of the boys in check.

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Good to see the Indian selectors have at last woken up to the fact that Harbhajan was pretty much finished three years ago & that Mishra simply isn't up to Test standard. Ojha was instrumental in Surrey winning their last four County Championship games last season & being promoted to the First Division of the Championship by a whisker, so he'll always have a special place in Surrey fans' hearts (hopefully he'll play a full season for us in 2012, but sadly that looks doubtful, as he'll almost certainly be on international duty for India). Ashwin, too, was by far India's most threatening spinner in the ODIs - both in England & India - &, on that basis, richly deserves a chance at Test level.

  • sam on November 7, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    It's astonishing that on this flat pitch the youngsters (Virat and Rahane) didn't get a chance. This downright selfish attitude displayed by Sachin, Dravid and Laxman is getting on my nerves. And selectors and team mangement deserve some flak for selecting Yuvraj (certain failure in Australia).

  • sam on November 7, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    Ojha needs an arm ball.. and needs to vary his pace more. He was varying his pace 70-85 kph yesterday but ideally needs to vary it in between 75-95 kph. Anyway the most positive thing about him is he doesn't ball many bad balls.

  • Satish on November 7, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    I do agree with NRI that Rahul Sharma was seleted a bit prematurely in to squad.. But Mishra/Chawla didnt show enough control in internationals to be in the playing 11.. May be, we can stick with Ojha, Bhajji and Ashwin for sometime and blood Rahul keeping him in the squad.. Hope he grows into a good consistent bowler.. Better not to give him chance prematurely and spoil his chances..

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    For all those cribbing about Rahul Sharma not playing, what is his 1st class record? Time and again we see the "cricinfo" experts emphasizing that the FC record should be taken into consideration while selecting the test team. Isn't this another case of IPL/T20 performance gaining test berth for someone? Nothing against Sharma, but he probably would have learnt more by bowling in tandem with Bhajji at Mohali against the likes of Raina and Kaif than spending time carrying drinks at Kotla. Kotla has always been a slow, low wicket. It's time it produces some good tracks. Thank God this is WI. It's otherwise impossible to force a result against a top team, Kumble's last test a case in point. And a word about Yuvraj Singh. 4 years ago, he was ruthlessly exposed in Australia. It seems that selectors are readying him for another disaster there. Alas, the series would have been lost by that time.

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