India might have won the first Test against Australia in Chennai comprehensively, but one can’t ignore the fact that the victory came on a spinners’ paradise and thanks largely to two men — Mahendra Singh Dhoni and R Ashwin.
On another day and another wicket, the decision to drop Pragyan Ojha — India’s leading wicket- taker in the series against England with 20 scalps — and play Ravindra Jadeja could have easily backfired on skipper Dhoni.
But luckily for him, Ashwin was in such good form that he compensated for Harbhajan Singh’s lack of confidence and Jadeja’s lack of ability as an international level spinner.
But going into the second Test, Dhoni definitely needs to look at his spin bowling combination.
Legendary spinner Erapalli Prasanna feels that keeping in mind Jadeja’s limitations with the bat and his inability to run through a side with the ball, Ojha should be an automatic choice in the playing XI for Hyderabad.
“The wicket in Chennai was definitely under prepared and on such wickets, anybody can pick wickets."
But I don’t think the Hyderabad wicket will be on the same lines, so it is important to have Ojha back in the team. He is a strike bowler, Jadeja is not,” Prasanna told MAIL TODAY. “Also, I don’t think Jadeja did much with the bat to guarantee himself a place in the team at number seven. What Jadeja did with the bat can also be done by Ashwin.
But you need strike bowlers to get wickets and that is where Ojha comes in. And bringing in Ojha would mean giving Harbhajan another chance — something which he deserves after showing much more confidence and composure in the second innings,” he said.
Former left- arm spinner Maninder Singh, too, feels Ojha needs to be drafted into the team. He said that Jadeja doesn’t yet have the confidence needed to succeed as a Test player.
Before the Test, I too was of the opinion that Dhoni should bat at number six and Jadeja should be played. But I think that wasn’t the right opinion. Jadeja doesn’t inspire confidence and the way he batted, I think even Bhuvneshwar Kumar can do that job.
Honestly, Jadeja doesn’t have the potential to run through a side even on a wicket like Chennai, so it is important to have someone like Ojha in the squad.
“If at all, Dhoni wants Jadeja in the team, he should sacrifice a pacer as they hardly seem to have any task on wickets like Chennai.
As far as I have heard, the curators have been instructed to prepare turners. So in that case, why not have four spinners? I do realise that one spinner will definitely be underbowled in that case, but then that is the only option if Jadeja has to fit into the team,” he said.
Maninder feels that Jadeja needs to work on both his batting and bowling to fit into the role of an all-rounder at No. 7.
“He is definitely not your all-rounder. He is one of those who will score once in 10 or 12 innings and as a bowler he is okay, definitely not international standard,” he said.
Former India spinner Venkatapathy Raju, who hails from Hyderabad, said that considering Ojha’s current form, he should be a part of the team rather than warming the bench.
“Ojha form, especially in the last couple of series, means he should definitely play instead of Jadeja,” he told MAIL TODAY .
Pragyan Ojha was India’s leading wicket- taker in the series against England scalping 20 wickets in four Test matches.