Ojha undaunted by West Indies' attacking approach
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