It’s hard to be a wicketkeeper-batsman in today’s time, especially for the ones who are knocking on the doors, hoping to make it to the Indian team.
Having wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India captain means it brings to an end all arguments for a new wicketkeeper-batsman in the side.
However, leaving all those aspects and possibilities aside, Naman Ojha, who is currently playing for India A in Australia, has made sure his name would be discussed by the Indian team at the breakfast table in England.
With scores of 219 not out and an unbeaten 101 in the first match and another 110 on Tuesday against Australia A, Ojha has certainly grabbed the attention in cricketing circles. His century along with a gutsy 90 off 66 balls by Umesh Yadav helped India A take the first innings lead against Australia A in second unofficial Test in Brisbane.
Having played 100 first class games as a wicketkeeper-batsman, Ojha is now eying a place in the Indian team as a batsman. He is probably not the only one who is thinking on those lines. There are other keepers too who would be hoping their batting credentials would earn them a place in the national side.
“It has been a great tour for me and I feel these runs have come at the right time. It was important at this stage of my career. I’m hoping to make it to the Indian team one day and be a permanent member. Realistically, it’s tough, as MS (Dhoni) is also a wicketkeeper. But having scored so many runs, now I think I can play as a batsman too,” Ojha told The Indian Express from Brisbane.
Ojha rated Tuesday’s innings as more satisfying than the other two big scores on the tour as the pressure was more on him this time. After Australia A registered 423, India A kept losing wickets at regular intervals, but Ojha stood firm.
“This innings was best under pressure because when I went in to bat we were 168 for four. So I had to bat and hang in there so that we don’t have to follow on. It is difficult to play in Australia on a bouncy and pacy wicket, but I was prepared for that. Australians always come hard at Indians and mentally I was prepared for it,” Ojha said.
Umesh hits out
However, it was Yadav who stole the limelight on the third day with his blistering 90 runs studded with 11 fours and five sixes. The Nagpur pacer had finished with a five-wicket haul in Australia A’s first innings and was called into action with the bat as well. And he didn’t disappoint, giving examples of some clean hitting in his 66-ball knock.
Yadav said the initial plan was to try and spend time on the crease.
“I just went and played my natural game. I played freely and whichever ball came in my range, I went after it. I always enjoy batting and try to contribute. Getting those big runs is always a treat. As a tailender, those 90 means a lot,” Yadav said.
It was just a few days back that the India-England series witnessed mammoth innings from tailenders with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami scoring half centuries. Far away in Brisbane, Yadav was giving another twist to the tail.
Brief scores: Australia A 0/0 and 423 trail India A 501 (N Ojha 110, U Yadav 90; C Sayers 5/84, B Cutting 4/100) by 78 runs