Ever since he was sent back by the Rajasthan Royals’ think-tank before the IPL, “because they did not like his batting”, Naman Ojha has been living on the edge.
After sulking for two days, Ojha returned to his training schedule in Indore. “It was insulting to be sent back before the tournament,” Ojha said on Friday. “I will not reveal if I cried,” said the 25-year-old wicket-keeper who plays for Madhya Pradesh in Ranji Trophy.
Ojha, named among the 30 probables for the T20 World Cup but missed out, was going through his routine of gym, nets and local matches when he received a call on April 28 to go to South Africa. “I thought I had a chance to open the batting if one of the regular openers failed, or if they needed a wicketkeeper who could score runs,” he said.
He landed in South Africa on April 30 and got his first chance two days later against the Deccan Chargers. Batting at number four, he flopped, failing to score in the six balls he faced. “Shane (Warne) told me I would get one more game. If I did not perform, I would be sent back,” Ojha said.
Under pressure to perform, Ojha was sent to open with Graeme Smith against the Kings XI. Playing freely, he scored 68 in a 135-run partnership and followed it up with an unbeaten 52 against the Royal Challengers on Thursday. “I am getting back to my normal self,” Ojha said about winning his team’s confidence.
But despite the back-to-back fifties, he is just going through the motions and the enthusiasm of travelling is missing. “Before being sent back, I used to know the team’s schedule by heart during the preparatory camp. Now, I don’t think beyond the next venue,” he said.
Slowly coming to terms with his status, Ojha is keen to learn from his opening partner. “(Graeme) Smith is the South Africa captain and there is a lot to learn from him,” he said before making his way to the team bus.
Acknowledging the thumbs-up sign with a quiet nod, he stopped and said slowly, “The IPL is a tough league and one has to keep performing. I’ll try my best.”