Pragyan Ojha is keen to prove his worth away from home © IANS (File Photo)
Pragyan Ojha is keen to prove his worth away from home © IANS (File Photo)

 

By Chetan Narula

 

Benoni: Dec 13, 2013

 

The Indian cricket team was dealt another blow on their current tour of South Africa, when play on day one of the two-day practice match here, had to be abandoned without a single ball being bowled because of a wet outfield.

 

The game, the only warm-up fixture ahead of the Test series, was to be played against the South Africa Invitational XI at the Sahara Willowmoore Park. Instead, the Indian team ended up practising on by themselves, setting up nets around the main wicket and going through their drills.

 

The Indian team management had a discussion with match officials, who gave them a go-ahead to practice on the central pitch, the one slated to be used for this game.

 

Also, it was informed that should there be no more rain here during the day or overnight, the two teams will be back tomorrow morning to get atleast one day’s play. It will be a 9.30 am start to get as many overs in as possible.

 

If not, then it is expected that team India will stay back in Johannesburg and use the practice facilities at the Wanderers stadium.

 

The Indian team went through their paces thereafter, setting up three groups to get the fielding and catching practice out of the way first. After that, the batsmen all padded up and took their turns batting to the Indian bowlers, as no net bowlers were made available today.

 

It was interesting to note the order in which they batted. Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, took turns in pairs. Then came Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, followed by skipper MS Dhoni and R Aswhin.

 

Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja only took throw downs in the meantime, taking their turns to bat only in the latter stages.

 

This could have possibly been a hint for the first Test, combined with the bowlers who took turns turning their arms over. Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and R Ashwin were first among them, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pragyan Ojha followed shortly. Umesh Yadav bowled only in the latter stages of the session, while Jadeja was conspicuous by his absence.

 

Does this mean a toss-up between Ajinkya Rahane and Pragyan Ojha for the first Test at Johannesburg, starting December 18? Or simply, were these the chosen players to feature in this tour game?

 

While that is anybody’s guess, earlier Ojha did express his expectation of making the Test eleven.

 

“One of my big aims is to play outside the sub-continent and win games for my team. It is definitely something that I am looking forward to, having played a lot of cricket in the sub-continent,” he said, masking his desperation.

 

The left-arm spinner has 113 Test wickets in 24 Tests so far, and notably is yet to play a Test outside the sub-continent.

 

He wreaked havoc against the West Indies in the recently concluded Test series, wherein Sachin Tendulkar bid farewell to the game. He picked up ten wickets in the second match at Mumbai.

 

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