Naman Ojha © Getty Images
Naman Ojha has been in solid form with the bat in the last two Ranji seasons © Getty Images

Naman Ojha, the Madhya Pradesh wicketkeeper, has been steadily improving his batting and wicket-keeping skills to warrant a place in the India line-up for India’s third Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo. He has been in prolific form as a batsman, with an average of 69.58 and 69.62 in the last two Ranji Trophy seasons. In the recent unofficial ‘Test’ series in Chennai between India A and Australia A, his wicket-keeping was praised. His growing reputation was shown acknowledgment when he was included in India’s tour of Australia late last year. But the wicket-keeper next in line after MS Dhoni was Wriddhiman Saha, something that did not allow him to play a Test yet.

Until this time. Saha has been assessed in the limited opportunities he got, and it is now clear the Indian team management believe Ojha at least is good enough to be given a chance to stake his claim in the Test team after an injury to the Bengal player. READ: Karun Nair, Naman Ojha rewarded with India call-up for 3rd Test vs Sri Lanka

His wicket-keeping was helped by tutoring by former India keeper Kiran More, who told Mumbai Mirror: “He would have injuries on his thumb and index finger. His hand position was faulty. So plenty of balls would bounce off his palms. He had no stability or balance in stance which is a must like in batting. So we worked on is positioning to catch the ball. Keeping is much like fast-bowling. Without a sound action, you could get injured. He was determined to rectify them.”

His impressive batting, bulky run-making and at a quick pace, was noticed in India A’s tour of Australia in the middle of 2014. He scored 430 runs in three innings at an average of 430 and a strike-rate of 84.14, including an unbeaten double ton and a century in the first game. READ: Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha ruled out of 3rd Test against Sri Lanka

This is also a product of homework done under guidance, that of Praveen Amre. “I told him mere hundreds wouldn’t be sufficient. It’s only when you get huge knocks that your name will be discussed,” Lalchand Rajput, the India ‘A’ coach on the Australia tour, told the newspaper. “He was sound on the back-foot. He could play the cut and pull with panache. Occasionally he would top-edge the pull. I wanted him to be solid, so I made him follow a commandment. He was allowed to pull balls that were only below the eye.”

“I vividly remember a Ranji game for Madhya Pradesh against Assam in 2008. Everyone looked ill at ease on a green top. And this boy got a hundred playing shots with instincts. We were just floored by his skills,” Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the former India player and domestic veteran, said.

The third Test begins Friday, August 28.