India news December 27, 2014

Pragyan Ojha banned from bowling

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Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha has been barred from bowling in competitive cricket after his action was found to be illegal. ESPNcricinfo understands that following a request made by the Hyderabad Cricket Association, Ojha's home association in domestic cricket, Ojha's action was tested at the ICC-recognised centre in Chennai. The tests, it is understood, concluded that Ojha's elbow flexed more than the permissible limit of 15 degrees.

The BCCI informed the HCA in a letter on Friday that Ojha cannot bowl in competitive cricket till his action is cleared, and the bowler was subsequently withdrawn from Hyderabad's squad for their Ranji Trophy game against Services, which begins on Sunday.

It is understood that Ojha's action had been under the scanner for more than a year now, which was one of the reasons why he disappeared from the selectors' radar despite being one of the quickest Indian bowlers to reach 100 Test wickets. Ojha is believed to have discussed the issue informally with the national selectors, which resulted in him getting his action tested in Chennai.

Purshottam Agarwal, the HCA joint secretary, admitted that the association had "received a letter" from the BCCI, but denied that the HCA had asked for Ojha's action to be evaluated. Hyderabad's coach Abdul Azeem, meanwhile, said he was surprised by the setback to his team, particularly since there had been "no whispers about it".

Former Test umpire AV Jayaprakash, a member of the BCCI's committee to eradicate suspect bowling actions, had told ESPNcricinfo in October that Ojha had been asked to undertake corrective measures in the past. Following Jayaprakash's claims, which came during the Duleep Trophy, Ojha started bowling in half-sleeves. In the Ranji Trophy this season, he bowled 133.4 overs in Hyderabad's three matches, picking up four wickets at 75.25. It is understood that Ojha did bowl his arm-ball throughout the season, a delivery which is believed to have come under the scanner.

Earlier this month, Ojha was released by Mumbai Indians ahead of the 2015 IPL season.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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