'Aren't you here for results?': Ojha reacts sharply to 'turners an act of desperation from India to reach WTC final'
In an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Legends League Cricket in Doha, Pragyan Ojha touched upon the pitch talk which has been the cynosure of the Border-Gavaskar series, about the present Indian bowling attack and gave his verdict on Virat Kohli's struggle in Test cricket.
The pitch talk remains the focus of Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. If last week it was Indore track, deemed “poor” by the ICC, where the third Test between India and Australia were played, it is the Ahmedabad track this time around with Aussie legend launching an attack on the hosts for making a last minute-decision from the two pitches laid for the fourth Test. Among the avalanche of criticism waged against India over the last few days, few veteran crickets have slammed the Rohit Sharma-led side for backing for turning pitches as a desperate act to make the World Test Championship final. Former India spinner Pragyan Ojha was disappointed at the remark, pointing out that all three matches have results with the last tie even creating a level of contest between the two teams.
In an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Legends League Cricket in Doha, Ojha touched upon the pitch talk which has been the cynosure of the Border-Gavaskar series, about the present Indian bowling attack and gave his verdict on Virat Kohli's struggle in Test cricket. Here are excerpts…
There has been so much talk around the pitch, do you think India dishing out rank turners was an act of desperation from the team to make the WTC final?
What is the definition of Test cricket? It is a test of your skill, and your mental and physical strength. The beauty of home and away series is that when you go to somebody's home, you face a different challenge which you have not faced. When we go to SENA countries the challenges are different, similarly for those teams when they come to India. In SENA countries, the wickets are slightly greener, there is some lateral movement. In Australia there is a little bit of bounce. In the subcontinent, the track helps the spinners. So calling India desperate in that aspect, I wouldn't agree to it because everyone has the option of playing to their strength. It's just a strategy and it helps in making the game more exciting. I really like the way Rohit Sharma said, when you play a full five-day Test match, there is a lot of people have said that the wickets were not good in other countries and it was not giving any result, so when you get result and see some excitement in the game, that is what you are here for.
Sunil Gavaskar recently said that without Bumrah, this Indian attack does not have the ability to pick 20 wickets in India. Your thoughts on that?
I feel his views were more about what Bumrah has contributed. But when the condition changes, it becomes very different. That is where we have seen someone like Ashwin or Jadeja or Axar come into play and take the lead. But when India went to SENA countries, they saw what Bumrah and Shami have done over the years and now they have Siraj. So everyone has a role to play here. I can understand what Gavaskar sir is saying, because Bumrah has created that impact. Overall, India as a bowling unit, have done brilliantly - whether it is in Australia or England.
Ashwin or Jadeja - your pick if India reach the final of the WTC?
It's a very difficult question (laughs) because both are brilliant. It depends on what kind of wicket they are playing and the conditions. They will obviously be tempted to have Jadeja because he offers so much with the bat and is a brilliant fielder which gives him an edge ahead of Ashwin, but both have done brilliantly well.
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You have seen the likes of Graeme Swann play in India. The legendary Shane Warne was here before that. What do you think of Rohit Sharma calling Nathan Lyon the best overseas spinner to have played in India?
It depends on the individual. I can be a bit defensive if I bowl to someone like Mahela Jayawardene. I felt he was a batter who never allowed me to settle down. But some other bowler would enjoy bowling to him. So it depends on the individual and how they look at a particular skill set.
Whom did you find the toughest to bowl to? And in the Indian team?
Jayawardene. He was very tough. I was irritated initially because he never let me settle down as a bowler. He was so smart that he would play those late cuts or paddle sweeps.
In the Indian team, that was the dream line-up. Bowling to them I had learned so much. We had Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar...also got to see a little bit of Dada's batting, then VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh. When you bowl to them, you are ready for the world and you are not scared of someone taking you on.
There is a lot of talk around Virat Kohli's form in Test cricket as well. What is your take on that?
I think he has gone beyond that. We have seen what he can do over the years. He is an absolute legend. When you play for such a long time, you will have the ups and downs. If you see what Dravid said, the number of runs he has got, the centuries he has scored and the matches he has played he will look more like a guy who has failed than succeeded. That is the beauty of sport.
Thoughts on India's chances in the Ahmedabad Test?
I was just following it on my phone. This is a very important game because India are yet to qualify and for that they need to win. And absolutely they can win.