Want to make the most of Anil Kumble’s advices: Ojha

Left arm spinner hungry for match winning performances for MI

Hyderabad 01 May 2013
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.”

Shikhar Dhawan who was ruthless against the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh, played Ojha with a lot of respect. He could get just 11 runs of the 15 deliveries he played off Ojha.

“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.
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