Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

Why Pragyan Ojha is India’s biggest weapon against England

Pragyan Ojha

Pragyan Oha… the key © Getty Images

Pragyan Ojha’s five-wicket haul outsmarted the English batsmen in the first innings and bundled them out for 191. It was a magnificent display of bowling as he relied on flight to create doubts in the batsmen’s minds. While Ravichandran Ashwin was said to be India’s trump card considering his unorthodox variety, Ojha’s art may have been underestimated a touch in the lead-up to the series. However, England’s recent history in Asia would suggest that the orthodox left-arm spinners have been their nemesis.

 

Talk about England’s weakness against spin started when Saeed Ajmal spun a web around them in the Middle East early this year. The then No 1 side slipped to an ignominious 0-3 defeat and certainly played well below expectations. Ajmal is perhaps the most deceptive spinner in world cricket today as his variations haven’t been picked by the best in business. His 24 wickets in the series were instrumental in Pakistan’s famous victory and would have given the England batsmen a number of nightmares during that tour.

 

Through all that, one generally tends to forget the contribution of Abdur Rehman – the Pakistani left-arm spinner. With his 19 wickets in the series, he wasn’t far behind Ajmal. However, the unique style of Ajmal brought him the limelight and pushed the more orthodox Rehman in the background. It was Rehman who delivered the series-winning spell in the second Test at Abu Dhabi. Pakistan were defending only 145 in the fourth innings and Rehman scalped six wickets to bowl England out for 72.

 

A month or two down the line, England travelled to Sri Lanka to exorcise the ghosts of their Middle East sojourn. The interesting thing is that the Lankan’s were without the typical unorthodox element in their spin bowling department. They fielded the classical left-arm spinner in Rangana Herath and the off-spinner Suraj Randiv. Herath was England’s wrecker-in-chief as he took 19 wickets in the two Tests. The series was drawn 1-1, but Herath made his mark in both the Tests, particularly in the first where he picked 12 wickets to win the game for Sri Lanka.

 

Graeme Swann, England’s off-spinner said in the lead-up to the series that India doesn’t have a mystery spinner like Ajmal. Ashwin has his own variations, but isn’t as deceptive as Ajmal. However, the mysterious element isn’t imperative to trouble England in sub-continental conditions. Left-arm spin may be the way forward for India and they must back Ojha through the series to deliver the goods. Rehman and Herath proved that early this year and Ojha did the same in the first innings at Ahmedabad.

 

Ojha’s flight is undoubtedly his biggest strength and he gives it air and a good loop. The wicket of Kevin Pietersen was the pick amongst all his wickets. The flamboyant England batsman doesn’t enjoy playing left-arm spinners and he was left in two minds while negotiating a well-flighted delivery on the middle. As one of the commentators pointed out, the dismissal of Matt Prior would have also given Ojha tremendous satisfaction as he deceived him in the air and hit the stumps even as the batsman made room. 

 

The English batsmen have done well in the second innings as they have negotiated the spinners. It is now up to Ashwin and Ojha to capitalise on their gains in the first innings and convert the advantage into victory. A resilient fight from the Englishmen has made this an interesting Test. England aren’t out of the contest yet.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

 

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

More

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

England Women won by 9 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

India won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 3, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 8 runs

Photos

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play cricket

Videos

Steven Finn rips apart Sussex with 6 for 80

IPL 2014: Bowlers to watch out for in the tournament

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

IPL 2014: Utility players who can make a difference

IPL: What value does a franchisee owner bring to the side by sitting in the dugout?

Adrian Barath: West Indies’ youngest Test centurion

Australia BCCI ICC World T20 2014 India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kolkata Knight Riders Moments in history Mumbai Indians Pakistan PCB Sachin Tendulkar

N Srinivasan files affidavit in SC over suspension as BCCI president

Song Singh’s “Bookie Song”: the new video sensation

Sourav Ganguly’s Indian Super League bid praised by Indian footballers

Pakistan need to restore faith to bring back cricket, says ACC

IPL 2014: Shane Watson excited with Rajasthan Royals squad-depth

IPL 7: Top batsmen to watch out for

IPL 2014: Bowlers to watch out for in the tournament

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

IPL 2014: Utility players who can make a difference

John Thayer: Only First-Class cricketer who sunk with the RMS Titanic

Fan of the Day

Cyrus Irani

Cyrus Irani

767 Posts | 24 Fans

ICC World T20 2014: Video of Virat Kohli and Kumar Sangakkara showing mutual respect after final at Dhaka

Supriya Kumari and Sachin Shroff to star in a new show, Anudamini

Dance to transform your body, mind and soul

IPL 2014: Bowlers to watch out for in the tournament

Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai: Will Naitik support Akshara in helping Devyani?

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

Amazon smartphone with six cameras leaked in live photos

IPL 2014: 5 must-have apps to keep track of the T20 extravaganza

IPL 2014: Chris Gayle, Mitchell Johnson or Virat Kohli – who is the fittest player? (Poll)

Also on cricketcountry.com