Ojha not given a fair deal, feels ex-India spinner
The heavy dose of spin dished out by India in Chennai has left Australia reeling and desperate to somehow bounce back in the four-Test series.
While R Ashwin was the star performer, his spin partner from the previous home series against England, Pragyan Ojha, was left to longingly watch his team mates perform the victory dance on the "dirty" pitch, as the MA Chidambaram surface was dubbed.
With skipper MS Dhoni backing Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, the double off-spin attack aimed to counter the four left-handed batsmen in Australia's top six, and the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja due to his batting abilities, Ojha at the moment looks unlikely to play in his home Test starting on Saturday.
Former India left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju, who was also a national selector, however, feels his fellow Hyderabad bowler, who topped the wickets chart for home bowlers against England, has got a raw deal.
"Apart from Tests, he is also a good ODI and T20i bowler, but the combination being preferred these days is more of a batsman who can bowl and Ojha is missing in this department. This is something which is unfair for him," Raju to HT on Thursday.
Although Indian spinners accounted for all 20 wickets in the first Test, Raju believes the real strength for India at home has always been their batting.
"One thing we should never forget is whenever we score heavily in India, it makes things easy for us. Our batting was not that effective against England and we lost. But the moment Dhoni hit a double ton and the score went beyond 500, it automatically put pressure on the Australians."
Raju, currently a development manager with the Asian Cricket Council, said: "We always need to bat well at home to win matches. Even when we were number one in Tests, it was VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and others who were batting brilliantly."
Even in the 1990s, all-rounders Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar made the difference, he said.
"They were batting all-rounders and that always gave us one extra slot for a specialist spinner which was decisive every time we went with it."
Raju felt India urgently need a seam bowling all-rounder and that frequent India A tours to countries that prepare fast and bouncy wickets was important to achieve that objective.