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On a day when Shikhar Dhawan stamped his authority over most of the Mumbai Indians bowlers,Pragyan Ojha quietly walked away with the best economical figures by sticking to the basics and bowling to a plan. It was yet another low scoring game at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium, wherein the Mumbai Indians could manage just 129 in their twenty overs.
Ojha felt, the outcome of the match could have been different had they got some more runs on the board. “It was a good track to bowl. If we had twenty odd runs more, we had a chance in the game. Once you see 130 on the board, the opposition tends to play freely. But once you see 150, the picture is completely different. We bowled well in patches but it is disappointing that we lost the game.”
“I knew what shots Shikhar plays to left arm spinners.” Ojha said. “Shikhar and I have been playing together for quite some time now; we played for the Deccan Chargers initially and then have been practicing together while playing for India. It was important that I did not give him easy runs. I felt I could have attacked him a bit more than I did. Probably if we had got his wicket, it could have been a different story. Credit to Shikhar for the way he played.”
Ojha regretted the fact that he could not get any wickets to his name in this game, but said his focus ahead was to take his side to victories owing to his wicket taking abilities. “When I joined Mumbai Indians, I had made it clear to myself that I wanted to contribute towards the team success. When I pick wickets, I want my team to be on the winning side. I want to make a difference by winning games for my side.”
On slow tracks like that of Hyderabad where the ball holds a bit, Ojha believes that varying the pace is crucial. “Hyderabad is my home turf and I had an idea how the pitch would behave. I think bowling slow in T20s is very crucial. When you bowl slower, you make the batsman think and make him put more effort to play a scoring shot. If you are quicker through the air, it gets easier for the batsman to hit you for runs. In this format if you are not afraid of tossing the ball up, you will succeed.”
One can say that the left arm spinner is fortunate to have a mentor in Anil Kumble who has been one of the pioneers of spin bowling in world cricket. Ojha wanted to make the most of every net session with the legend.
“Every net session, Anil sir keeps giving us advices. He gives tips on how to approach the game and talks to us about the mental aspect of the game. It is a big opportunity for me to be able to get advice from a legend like Anil Kumble and I want to make the most of these two months of the IPL to gain as much as possible from him.”
When asked if he has been working on new variations in an age of mystery spinners, Ojha replied. I am just thinking about wickets; how to get batsmen out, outthink them and be a step ahead of them. I believe in varying the pace, sticking to my strengths rather than trying to bowl like someone else. A Sunil Narine or a Amit Mishra will never do what Pragyan Ojha does and vice versa. Every bowler is unique. I want to keep things simple; instead of trying a lot of things and end up confusing myself in the process.
Close to thirty thousand people thronged the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad to catch a glimpse of the master blaster weave his magic with the willow, and at the same time hoping for a win for the home side. To their delight, Sachin Tendulkar’s short stint at the crease was a visual delight and at the end of the day, their team walked back with smiles to the dressing room, recording a seven wicket win.
Earlier in the day, during the Mumbai Indians’ innings, the stage was set for a ‘Dale Steyn vs SachinTendulkar’ show. Tendulkar, got the better of the world’s best fast bowler as he was hit with authority for two magnificent boundaries in one over. The onus was then left on the other SRH bowlers to keep a tab on the run scoring and at the same time stop the run flow off the master’s bat.
When Ishant Sharma was given the ball, some said he had lost his old lethal self, while others argued that he was going through a rough patch and the best was yet to come. All of that was put to rest by the 24-year old lanky pacer who got Tendulkar clean bowled, as he delivered a beauty of a ball to get the master to take the walk back to the pavilion.
“It is a tremendous feeling to get Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket,” said Ishant in an exclusive chat with IPLT20.com after the match. “When I started playing cricket, I never felt I would someday bowl to Tendulkar or be playing against him. It is a big moment for any bowler to get the wicket of one of the best batsman in the world. I am pleased I got the wicket of the ‘God of cricket’. It is a special feeling,” said an ecstatic Ishant who was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his outstanding spell of fast bowling against the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
Ishant ended up with match figures of 4-1-15-2 which also included the wicket of Mumbai Indians’ run machine Dinesh Karthik. For Ishant it was all about keeping things simple. “I assessed the conditions and tried to execute whatever set plan we had for each batsmen. I bowled according to my strengths without thinking about the batsman. I am pleased that we did well as a collective bowling unit. We kept things simple, without trying anything extraordinary and did our basics right today. ”
Ishant has 12 wickets in the tournament so far and believes he is hitting the right line and lengths consistently. He felt he has become more mature when it came to bowling in T20s. Ishant the bowler was a satisfied man at the end of the day. “I have been going in with a relaxed mindset these days which is something that has worked for me in the IPL. I have been consistent throughout the tournament. My economy rate has been close to seven which I feel is fair enough to have in this format of the game. I am pretty happy the way I am bowling.”
Sharma also reserved praise for Amit Mishra who was the only other bowler to pick up wickets in the match. Mishra too was at his wicket taking best with two wickets to his name. “Amit Mishra has been tremendous for us in the IPL. He did a great job by keeping the MI batsmen silent and taking crucial wickets. I guess we bowled well in pairs and did a great job in restricting Mumbai to 129.”
Ishant though, regretted dropping Dwayne Smith’s catch in the 11th over, but felt it was important that he moved on from the dropped catch since it would affect his bowling. He said, “I felt bad that I dropped an easy catch, but I had to make sure that I did not think about it and let it affect my bowling. I had an over left to bowl after that and had I let the drop catch affect me; I could have well gone for runs in my final over. I am glad I took a clean catch later and also summed up my bowling with good economical figures at the end of the day.”