Academics,and not cricket,was the reason that the Ojhas decided to shift son Pragyans base from Bhubaneswar to Hyderabad back in 2001. Not surprisingly,the youngster,all of 13 then,struggled to adjust to the new place and it took him nearly two years to really feel at home.
The left-arm spinners transition from domestic cricket to the international stage,however,has been relatively swift. Within a year of making his debut for India,the 22-year-old Ojha has cemented his place as the second spinner in limited-over cricket.
Presently training back home for the KSCA tournament,Ojha is looking forward to the forthcoming season,especially the ODI tri-series in Sri Lanka as it was here that he made his first impression. The pitches are quite helpful for spinners and I have done well there. And every cricketer likes to play at a venue where he has succeeded before, says Ojha,who achieved his career-best figures of 4-38 in Colombo earlier this year.
And that confidence has been evident in his bowling. While most finger-spinners these days tend to bowl flat,Ojha is not afraid of giving the ball flight. That is the way I have always bowled and it comes very naturally to me, he explains.
Ojha calls himself lucky to have played under the captains who had faith in his style of bowling. In the second edition of the IPL,Ojha,who plays for Deccan Chargers,was constantly cheered up by his skipper Adam Gilchrist. The stumper could be heard shouting Well bowled,O every time Ojha sent down a delivery,at various venues across South Africa.
The left-armer played a crucial role in eventual champions Deccans run and ended up with 18 wickets.
It was a great experience,especially playing under Gilchrist,who was very supportive and always gave me the exact field that I wanted.
And Dhoni bhai,too,is very understanding and a great captain to play under, says Ojha,who also played three games for India during the World T20 Championships in England in June.
He adds that beating a batsman in flight provides the biggest satisfaction for any spinner and that he is looking forward to add to his 12 ODI scalps during the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
With Venkatapathy Raju taking over as coach of Hyderabad this season,things are looking up for Ojha as the former national selector was known to be a practitioner of the art of flight and deception. I think his biggest strength is his consistency. And with his height,he doesnt have to give it too much air in order to deceive the batsman. He is also quite strong and manages to get enough revolutions on the ball to give it a fair rip, says Raju. Raju says that his ward had always been a wicket-taking bowler and was never afraid to challenge the batsmen.
He needs to play more four-day games and get used to bowling long spells which will really help him develop even more, says Raju,who played 28 Tests and 53 ODIs. He also believes that it is important for a finger-spinner to have an attacking captain,especially in modern-day cricket.
While a number of off-spinners have produced eureka moments in recent years with various innovations,Ojha believes left-arm spin will always remain more classical art.
The likes of Daniel Vettori have achieved so much with just an armer for variation. I think sticking to the basics and being patient are necessary for the success of a left-arm spinner, maintains Ojha.