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Curious case of ‘fit’ Ojha

cricket Updated: Dec 05, 2008 22:42 IST
G Krishnan
G Krishnan
Hindustan Times
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How can someone who cannot bowl on December 1 be declared ‘fully fit’ to play a Test on December 4? That is exactly what happened with Hyderabad left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.

Ojha, who was included in the squad for the two Tests against England, opted out of his side’s Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai due to a ‘shooting pain’ in his bowling shoulder.

“Ojha hurt his shoulder while practicing before the Cuttack ODI against England — on November 26 — and we have asked him to take an MRI and get fit for the next game,” was what Hyderabad coach Kanwaljit Singh had said then.

Hyderabad physio Vijay Bharatiya also confirmed it. “Ojha was sent to the Nanavati Hospital (in Mumbai) but he has been advised to undergo an MRI in Hyderabad.”

What is mysterious is, while Ojha told his team he could not bowl on December 1 and left for Hyderabad, he was selected to the Indian team on December 4. According to reliable sources, the Indian team physio Nitin Patel had asked Ojha to report to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for a shoulder assessment.

The controversy surrounding V V S Laxman was also unnecessary. He was celebrating the birth of his daughter and hence opted out of the Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai. In fact he told this reporter two days before the game that he would not be travelling to Mumbai because he wanted to spend time with his daughter and family.

However, on Monday, Hyderabad coach Kanwaljit Singh told around ten Mumbai reporters: He (Laxman) was to play this match but has not yet recovered from the shooting pain in his heel.”

Singh later sent team physio Bharatiya to specify the exact injury status. Singh also said that Laxman had batted with a runner for the last 50 runs or so when he made 224 against Rajasthan in the earlier round. “Laxman suffers from Plantar Fasciatis,” Bharatiya revealed. In common man’s language, it is a heel pain. He also said Laxman “would take one to two weeks to heal.” Bharatiya also clarified that the injury was on the right heel.

When Laxman came to know about the reasons cited by the team coach in Mumbai, he was furious and called Singh and gave him a piece of his mind.

Laxman had, in fact, informed the Hyderabad Cricket Association that he was missing the Ranji tie only for the birth of his child, in advance, in writing.

For Singh to issue a clarification that he has been misquoted by the Mumbai press is a white lie.

Laxman is a veteran of 100 Test matches and having missed the birth of his first child, it was understandable that he take time off from a Ranji fixture. But what of Ojha, who has played a mere 5 ODIs and 32 first-class matches? Surely the young left-arm spinner should be pushing hard to bring success for his state side, not opting out of matches only to be declared fit when India come calling.