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Ex-India spinners express disappointment over exclusion of Ojha

Monday, August 17, 2021

Curious case of Pragyan Ojha

Sai Mohan

Mumbai: Not too long back former India spinner Maninder Singh hailed Pragyan Ojha as ‘the most attacking’ option in India’s bowling attack, when Ojha was not just proving economical but also picking up wickets for Team India in the World Twenty20 tournament in England.

Ojha’s fans have every reason to feel gutted as he failed to find a place in the Indian team for the back to back tri-nation series and Champions Trophy. What’s baffling is the exclusion that has come despite the fact that the left-arm orthodox spinner has a tally of 12 wickets from 9 ODIs, at a McGrath-like economy rate of 4.20. Ojha had delivered every time skipper Dhoni lobbed the ball at him. However, the selectors chose to go in with leg-spinner Amit Mishra for the twin ODI tours.

Venkatapathy Raju, the former India spinner, expressed shock at the youngster’s omission but showed faith in Dhoni’s judgment. “The team they have selected is quite good. The left-arm spinner adds a lot of a variety to the attack but I am sure the team management sat down and came to a decision after a lot of deliberation.

“I was a little taken aback when I heard he (Ojha) was dropped. He has done exceptionally well in both ODIs and T20s so far. He deserves to be given a longer run, but like I said, maybe the selectors feel that a leg-spinner gives them an attacking option. We will have to wait and watch if this is a good decision or not,” Raju told Cricketnirvana over phone from Hyderabad.

Legendary off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna reckons that it doesn’t make ‘too much of a difference to the overall balance of the side. “Mishra is a very attacking bowler and will prove dangerous if the ball turns,” Prasanna told Cricketnrivana.

Mishra, after performing well in both IPL-II and Emerging Players tournament in Australia, has got the selector’s nod for the ODI team. He’s making his ODI comeback after being picked for the first time in 2003.

“They (selectors) have to decide for themselves as to who is to be preserved for Test cricket and who should play ODIs,” Prasanna said. “A bowler’s thought process and bowling areas can change quickly with too much exposure to the shorter-versions of the game,” Prasanna pointed out, sending a message to Mishra as to not to lose the plot.

Former India spinner Sunil Joshi feels Ojha has no reason to get upset. “One must realise that getting dropped is a part and parcel of the game. There is no need to get upset. The selectors and the captain know their job so we have to respect them,” he told Cricketnirvana.

Joshi laughed over the fact that left-arm spinners have always been neglected. “There’s a big history of left-arm spinners being neglected very quickly,” he said. “Ojha has probably suffered the same fate despite some handsome performances in England. However, I think he has a very good future for India and will bounce back soon. Selection matters should never affect the performances of a youngster. If anything it should spur him on even more,” said Joshi.