Having bowled only three overs in this series, for nine runs, with no wickets to his name, Pragyan Ojha doesn’t appear the obvious candidate to fast-track into the team for the third match, but conditions at the Premadasa Stadium might just ensure that the 21-year-old left-arm spinner will sneak into the XI.
Ojha will be allowing himself some hope of making the cut, having heard the whispers that the pitch would assist slow bowling. “What I’ve heard is this wicket plays a little bit slow, and helps spinners. So it’s all about the captain and the coach, they have to decide what to do,” said Ojha at the end of India’s practice session on Friday.
Ojha was nonchalant about being left out in the seaming conditions of Dambulla, despite barely getting a chance to prove himself in the first match. “Obviously as a player I would be looking forward to playing on any wicket on a given day,” he said. “It was just about the combination of the team and I was given rest. It really doesn’t matter. You should be prepared to give your best whenever you are given a chance.”
Ojha, who was part of the Test squad, but did not get a go at any stage, with Anil Kumble, the skipper leading the spin attack and Harbhajan Singh taking the only other spot available, would have learned valuable things from his seniors, and also from Gary Kirsten, who unfortunately had to fly home to South Africa ahead of the third Test, but has returned to the tour in time for the first ODI.
“Even when Gary was in South Africa he was following us,” said Ojha. “We were still under his guidance. I think everyone was preparing very well. It’s a matter of coming up with the goods.”
Ojha has just embarked on his international career, but if you believe the likes of Venkatapathy Raju and Kanwaljit Singh, who nurtured Ojha from the time he moved from Bhubaneshwar to Hyderabad, then better things await this young man.