Ojha defends poor show

Were getting wickets but not at regular intervals

Indian spinners’ effort on Friday at the Eden Gardens was quite educational. It was a mix of sublime and downright ordinary with the latter part holding an edge.

Ashwin opened the bowling on the day, and managed four superb overs (4-3-1-0) first up, and Pragyan Ojha, who came in the fifth over of morning session, too began quite impressively shackling Jonathan Trott and Alistair Cook.

Both even managed to get some good response from the pitch as well, and once they managed to saw the backs of Trott, who fell to a classic left-arm spinner’s delivery that spun and smooched the outside edge of his bat, and Cook, it was natural for one to expect a better effort from the spin duo against new set of batsmen.

 But that wasn’t the case. The Indian spinners leaked runs against Kevin Pietersen, Samit Patel, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, particularly in the last session. Ashwin conceded 50 runs off 59 balls against these batsmen, while Ojha gave away 55 runs off 65 balls against the same set of batsmen, where a bit more thriftiness would have done a world of good for India’s cause.

Their generosity played a large role in England amassing 128 runs in the last 28 overs of the day, expanding the lead to 193. To his credit, Ojha managed to bring down his run-rate from 3.4 to 2.4 per over on the day, but that was hardly a consolation in the larger picture.

“Ashwin and myself are trying really hard. We have got wickets, but it’s just that it hasn’t come at regular intervals. The effort, I’d like to say, is tremendous,” Ojha said later in the post-day press do.

Effort was certainly there, but consistency was lacking. That brought the role of India’s bowling coach Joe Dawes, who is from Australia and into his ninth month in the job, under question. However, Ojha defended Dawes.

“Joe is good enough and he has the overview. He knows the angles (that can be used by spinners). Then we have Sachin paaji, Viru pa, Zak bhai and Dhoni bhai..all are legends. We speak to them (about bowling).

“From my point, I speak to Venkatpathy Raju, Sunil Joshi (Hyderabad Ranji coach), and my childhood coach Vijay Paul. We need to speak everyone and take lessons,” Ojha noted. Perhaps, the spinners need to stick to just one advisor!

Ojha also revealed that they have watched the videos of England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, the best spinner from either camp on the view in this series. Ojha said the difference was the speed in which the Englishman was operating. But added that it was impossible to emulate Panesar.

“I saw a few matches of Monty (earlier matches in video). It is his natural pace. Guys like me and Ashwin can’t bowl at that pace. Our pace is different. You can’t ask someone who is bowling at 80-82 or 84 kmph, and come to a game, an important game, and suddenly bowl at 100 kmph. That’s impossible,” Ojha offered.

Then he went on to explain his philosophy. “I have never tried to restrict a batsman. Just that I don’t like to give batsmen easy runs. Because when you go to bat, you don’t get easy boundaries. That’s what my idea is all about. Ashwin too has bowled well,” said Ojha.

By the evidence of it, Ojha and Ashwin weren’t very successful and they will require a much tidier stuff the next time.

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