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Pragyan Ojha: 11 facts you should know about the left-arm spinner

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Pragyan Ojha started with a Man-of-the-Match performance on debut against Bangladesh in the ICC Worlr T20 2009 © IANS

Pragyan Ojha, born on September 5, 1986, is one of India’s leading left-arm spinners. So far, he has represented India in 24 Tests, 18 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and six T20 Internationals. Nishad Pai Vaidya finds 11 facts about the left-arm orthodox spinner.

1.       Though Pragyan Ojha has played all his representative cricket in Hyderabad, he hails from Orissa. Ojha was born in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa. It was in Hyderabad that his cricketing ambitions took off as he made steady progress through the age groups.

2.       As Ojha spent the nascent phase of his career in Hyderabad, he looked up to Venkatapathy Raju, a left-arm spinner who played for India. Ojha played for Hyderabad through most of the age groups and then played a couple of matches for the India under-19s in 2005.  Future teammates Piyush Chawla and Rohit Sharma were also a part of that side. David Warner, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Moises Henriques were in the opposition.

3.       Ojha has been a huge success in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Soon after the inaugural edition, he was called up to the Indian One-Day International (ODI) team. As of September 2014, he is the seventh highest wicket-taker in IPL history with 89 scalps. In 2010, he won the Purple Cap for taking the most wickets in the season — Ojha had taken the least wickets to win a Purple Cap as the  other winners have taken more than Ojha’s number of 21.

4.       Ojha is amongst the few Indians to win a Man of the Match Award on debut in any format. During the ICC World T20 2009 match against Bangladesh, Ojha picked the award for his match-winning four-wicket haul. Only Dinesh Karthik and Subramaniam Badrinath have won the Man of the Match award on T20 International debut for India.

5.       In November 2009, Ojha made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at Kanpur. India had batted first and scored a mammoth 642. Off the first ball of the Sri Lankan innings, Tillakaratne Dilshan edged one to mid-on, where Ojha took a comfortable catch. Thus, Ojha holds the distinction of taking a catch off his first ball on the field in Test cricket.

6.       Ojha married Karabee Baral in 2010. Numerous Indian cricketers have very qualified and educated wives. Karabee is no different as she has a Phd in Biochemistry. Ojha has also got his wife’s birthdate on his bike’s number-plate.

7.       Ojha is Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800th victim in Test cricket. Prior to the Galle Test in 2010, Muralitharan announced his retirement and needed eight wickets to get to the magical number. In the second innings, Ojha was the last man out as he edged Muralitharan to Mahela Jayawardene at first-slip.

8.       In 2011, Ojha was signed by Surrey in county cricket. He had a tremendous run of form for them as he played four matches for them and picked up 24 wickets at a remarkable average of 12.95. His best figures read six for eight.

9.       Ojha is one of the few cricketers who has posed for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In early 2014 in Hyderabad, Ojha took part in this campaign and was posing for photographs while sitting in a cage with a sign that read, “Try to relate to their fate: Say no to zoo.”

10.   Ojha has only played four out of his 24 Tests overseas — in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He is thus yet to play a Test for India outside the sub-continent. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, spinners who made their debuts after Ojha have already played quite a few Tests outside Asia.

11.   Ojha took his only 10-wicket haul in Test cricket during Sachin Tendulkar’s last Test, which was at Mumbai in November 2013. To date, that has been Ojha’s last Test for India as he wasn’t picked for the subsequent tours to South Africa, New Zealand and England.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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