India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 14, 2013

Ojha undaunted by West Indies' attacking approach

Ajit Agarkar on India's quicks: Upright seam an asset

When Shivnarine Chanderpaul came out to bat in his 150th Test, he danced down and chipped Pragyan Ojha for a six over midwicket first ball. India sent a fielder back to deep midwicket. In the next over, Chanderpaul swept him for four, and India had protection for that too. This was not a defensive move. It was just India knowing that West Indies didn't have enough confidence in themselves to properly bat out time.

India's strategy remained the same to most of the West Indies batsmen except Marlon Samuels, with whom they probably felt the need to strike early because he could settle down and hurt India. When Mohammed Shami bowled to Samuels, India had four slips and a gully, but no boundary rider. With Chanderpaul, they knew they wouldn't incur enough damage even if he batted till the end because he doesn't hit out or farm the strike, and more often than not, the others don't hang around.

Ojha, who took his sixth five-wicket haul, in his 24th Test, to dismiss West Indies cheaply on the first day of the Test for the second time in the series, said he never felt threatened when the batsmen attacked him. "I think it's very simple you know," Ojha said. "In a Test match, when a batsman isn't sure about his defence, he wants to go after you and disturb your line and length. I wasn't thinking about what he was doing, I was just thinking about my bowling because I knew there was a lot of bounce in the wicket, and if I keep hitting the right areas, it will be difficult for them."

And right areas Ojha hit. That the five-for came in Tendulkar's last match made it more special, Ojha said. "It's a great feeling, getting a five-wicket haul in a special Test match like this," he said. "Always, getting a five-wicket haul in a Test match is a special feeling." He dedicated the haul to Tendulkar.

Ojha felt the pitch helped the spinners, as did his accuracy. "I think there was some bounce in the wicket and as the ball got older it started turning a bit," Ojha said. "So it was all about sticking to your basics and keeping tight lines and length and putting pressure."

Ojha said he didn't mind being overshadowed by Tendulkar's 38 not out in the final session of the day. "Whatever it is, this Test match belongs to Sachin paaji," Ojha said. "It's a special one for all of us. Definitely we all want him to get a lot of runs in this special match, and I don't mind getting overshadowed."

Ojha is one of the few India players who got some time off to go and play domestic cricket before the start of this season, and he is thankful for that. "I think all the credit goes to domestic cricket," he said. "I always feel it's important to go back to domestic cricket and perform there. If you perform there consistently, what our seniors have advised, is that the selectors will notice you."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    One good thing in Ojha is he always flights the ball despite being hammered..A quality of the classical left arm spinner :)

  • Sanjay on November 14, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    Unfortunately, our brilliant BCCI lacks common sense when it comes to releasing players for domestic cricket. There's a lot to learn from how England manage their domestic Tests: they'll keep 12 till the morning of the game, the rest are released to go play county cricket, a domestic game often starts on the same day as the Test. On top of that, once they decide on the starting XI, the 12th player is released too, a local cricketer with good fielding skills then performs 12th man duties.

    The 12th member of the squad then meets up with his county teammates one day late but there's a special provision in place that allows a substitute player to cover for him for the 1st day of the county game.

    That kind of thinking/planning is beyond the BCCI. Instead, we keep 15-16 players at all domestic Tests. The extraneous players neither get to play in the Tests nor in the Ranjis, therefore they never progress. Meanwhile, Ranji players are not playing against the best available talent.

  • Naresh on November 14, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Well done OHJA on SACHINS farewell test.

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