Despite the pitch at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik sports complex being rough and dry, there was less spin on offer. India Green left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha struggled to find any turn.
However, off-spinner Jalaj Saxena did surprise Gautam Gambhir with couple of deliveries that turned square. But Ojha, despite having a high-arm action, has been unable to turn the ball. Ojha’s figures of 18-1-75-0 don’t say a lot about his older self.
During his stint with the India Test squad before he was grounded for a faulty action, Ojha was a completely different bowler. After changes were made to his action, Ojha has lost a bit of his charm. Against Australia in 2013 at the Ferozeshah Kotla, Ojha bowled with a diagonal run-up, which helped him stay closer to the stumps. From there he bowled with a high arm action and his spot was middle-off to the batsmen. The ball would turn away nicely, drift and even dip from such height. He always had the advantage of keeping the batsmen guessing.
It seems the alterations in his bowling action have taken away his strengths. Ojha was one left-arm spinner who could turn the ball even on relatively unhelpful tracks. But with a straighter run-up, Ojha rarely comes into the old position of going near to the stumps. Earlier, he would go wide of the crease to fire an armer as a surprise, but now every delivery is bowled from the same spot.
In the first game of the Duleep Trophy, Ojha claimed three wickets against India Red. But two out of the three were picked through an armer. On both occasions, it was Ishwar Pandey who lost his timber.
The bent in his arm contributed in putting revolutions to the ball and force behind the delivery. The pivot of the front foot gave him a nice twist which helped the ball dip. After the alteration, he is not able to complete the twist and hence the ball drops shot. His usual deliveries land with an angle even if they are bowled with a high arm action. Because it comes from the angle, there is more pace and less spin on the ball, and batsmen cover it well.
In comparison, West Indies spinner Sunil Narine too faced problems after his bowling arm was straightened. His deliveries lack dip and sharp turn, making him look ordinary. During the T20 against India at Lauderhill, Narine conceded a lot of runs and KL Rahul even employed reverse sweeps against him.
On Sunday, Mayank Agarwal dominated Ojha and played some exquisite cover drives. On one occasion, Ojha flighted the ball but Agarwal leant in to the drive and scored a boundary. Ojha was disappointed and appeared helpless. He showed his frustration to Parthiv Patel saying that he pitched it right but the ball did not turn. Ojha was never in such a position before.