Mission Australia Ojha’s next target

With their India campaign just a week away, the Australian batsmen seem to be a confident lot as far as handling Indian spinners is concerned.

And the performance of their English counterparts, in the last Test series here, only aids their belief.

Speaking to MAIL TODAY , India’s frontline spinner Pragyan Ojha too confessed that the Englishmen did take the Indian team by surprise with their application while handling the spin attack, which also included R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla.

Ojha might have been the most successful spinner in the series, but he feels that credit must be given to the English batsmen for not only nullifying India’s prime weapon, but also outclassing their Indian counterparts, who found it tough to handle the likes of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

Says team comes ahead of getting the tag of ‘ leading’ spinner

“I don’t think we — the spinners — did anything wrong. The England batsmen showed a lot of application. I think they worked overtime to improve their skills in playing spin as they knew very well that it was our main strength. And the results showed in the Test series. The intent and purpose they showed was really a revelation,” Ojha said.

“Although I wouldn’t say that our batsmen failed to apply themselves, their spinners seemed to have taken their game to another level and made life difficult for our batsmen.

They must be given the due credit,” he said.

Going into the series, Ojha was considered to be the one who would bowl in tandem with frontline spinner Ashwin. But by the end of the series, it turned out that Ojha was the one who was leading the spin attack. But the Hyderabad player believes it is all about the team.

“Things like who is the leading spinner and who is the second spinner doesn’t even spring to my mind. At the end of the day, it is a team game and even if a batsman bowls and picks wickets, it is for India. As long as the job is done, doesn’t matter who does it,” he said.

“From an early age my coaches have always told me that the day one thinks that his place in the team is guaranteed, he stops growing as a player. So I don’t think I am the frontline spinner.

It has been a good year for me, I have picked wickets and that’s it. I don’t want to think too much about the past.” While cricketers like Suresh Raina are leaving no stone unturned to fulfill their dreams of playing Test cricket, Ojha’s dream is to make it to the ODI and T20 squad.

“As a cricketer you want to representthe country in all the formats and I am no different. I too wish to play in the shorter formats of the game. So while the Indian team has been playing ODIs and T20s, I have been working on my fitness and other aspects of the game. Being at the peak of your fitness level helps if you wish to gruel it out in all the formats of the game,” he said.

Critics have often said that Ojha is more of a line- and- length bowler and lacks variety – synonymous with quality spinners across the world. But with the Australian series looming large, Ojha said that he has been working hard to add variety to his bowling.

“I have been trying a few things and one of them has been bowling from closer to the wickets. It not only helps to get more legbefore dismissals, but also changes the line of delivery. Using the crease helps in adding variety and that is the main idea. That is all I can say at this point of time,” he signed off.

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