Naman Ojha would certainly be chuffed up with his performance Down Under © Getty Images
India A batsman Naman Ojha has had a terrific outing in Australia. He has not really lived up to the promise that he displayed early on in his career is definitely enjoying the new phase full of success. Amid this, during the ongoing tour of Australia, he has narrowly missed out on a unique feat set by any Indian batsman across all formats. Devarchit Varma has more.
“It was nice to get him [Naman Ojha] out… once. He’s played really well hasn’t he? He’s absolutely dominated us. They should probably rename The Oval, I reckon.” – Michael Di Venuto, Australia A and senior side batting coach told the Cricket Australia (CA) website.
During an interview with CricketCountry ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, Naman Ojha had sounded extremely confident about the season ahead. Ojha had backed himself like every other batsman does, but the case of someone being confident and knowing where he is at and someone sounding merely optimistic is different.
During the chat Ojha spoke majorly about IPL 7 and his preparations, but the confidence that was there in his voice was coming from the number of runs he had scored in the Indian domestic circuit — which expectedly went unnoticed in the eyes of the fans.
Ojha had informed that he had scored three hundreds (which included one double-hundred) for teams that many had not heard of. Unlike many players who do not open up much when drilled, Ojha was audacious enough to admit in the first instance that he did not feel good about batting lower down the order in the Delhi Daredevils’ team. The side was studded with batting superstars and Ojha was shifted down the order for obvious reasons.
However, Ojha spoke about the confidence that he had of doing well in the IPL. He spoke about the desire to bat up in the order for his new franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. Ojha also claimed that he realises the perils of playing in the air when there is an option of hitting the ball along the ground. That brief discussion with the 30-year-old gave the impression that Ojha was ready for a big leap. But was there any opportunity?
They say that 30-plus is just the right age for a batsman. This is the stage that he is matured enough to take all challenges. This is when he can think the rights and wrongs for himself. This is when he can actually put all the lessons learned over the years into practice. Looking at his feats, Ojha is certainly entering that ‘good phase’.
On the tour of Australia — one that is certainly not being followed by the Indian fans and a large section of media, Ojha has emerged as a real gem. He has turned up as a run-machine. In the first unofficial Test, he slammed 219 not out and 101 not out at nos. 7 and 6 respectively. In the ongoing second unofficial Test, he has once against cracked a century — 110 off 118 balls with three sixes and 18 fours.
Ojha’s batting average in this series is 430. But unfortunately for him, he has missed out on beating Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid by a whisker. Across all formats (international and non-international), Dravid holds the record of having the highest batting average in a series for India in any format — 432 against Zimbabwe in the home series in 2000-01. Dravid amassed 432 runs in two Test matches, which included 200 not out at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi.
Nevertheless, Ojha would certainly be chuffed up with his performance Down Under. The Indian selectors would certainly be keeping a very sharp eye on the likes of Uthappas and Tiwarys, but Ojha’s emergence as the run-machine would certainly have surprised them. Also there are few, who the cricket fans think, should have been there in the Indian side for the ongoing tour of England.
The senior side will tour Australia towards the end of the year, and India would be wary enough to not make the mistakes of the past. They can’t afford to carry passengers anymore; those performing would certainly have the edge. Then there will be those with experience of having played Down Under and performer. Whether Naman Ojha would get a national call or not is a thing of distant future, but the batsman has finally announced himself in a big way.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)