Ojha waiting for another opportunity with Team India

On competition with Wriddhiman Saha for a Test spot, Ojha said, "Saha is good. We share a healthy rivalry..."

Naman Ojha admitted he was disappointed not to play the Adelaide Test last season when M.S. Dhoni was injured.   -  V. Ganesan

He flew down his left side to pouch Rangana Herath in the Test series decider at Colombo last year. Naman Ojha remembers the moment.

“Herath, a left-hander, nicked Ishant Sharma and I dived to take the catch between the ‘keeper and the second slip. He was just one short of his fifty,” Ojha said to The Hindu.

It was a special vignette for Ojha since he is generally identified more for his runs with the bat than work behind the wickets. His scores for India ‘A’ against Australia ‘A’ in the two Tests at Brisbane’s Allan Border field – 219 not out, 101 not out and 110 – in the season gone by, were performances of the headline-grabbing kind.

But, then this well-organised batsman with innings building skills and sound back-foot play takes his keeping seriously too.

Ahead of the ongoing Ranji semi-final here, Ojha had 8344 runs in 122 First-Class matches at 43.22. He also had 347 catches and 50 stumpings. While he shoulders the responsibility of being Madya Pradesh’s premier batsman – he followed his knocks of 64 and 52 on a seaming track at CCI against Bengal with a battling 79 on a greenish pitch here – Ojha derives satisfaction from his work behind the stumps.

The 32-year-old cricketer said, “I have been ‘keeping for 20 years, from my days in school. In fact, even before that, I remember having the ‘keeper’s gloves on when I was five. They were the first gloves I wore in cricket. But I must admit batting is my first love.”

Ojha added, “Adam Gilchrist changed the way people look at ‘keepers. Now they want runs from him, and teams seek batting depth. You need to be physically fitter because, apart from ‘keeping, you are expected to bat for long periods.”

Batsmen who double up as ‘keepers would get found out as the formats got longer, he said. “It has worked for some teams in Twenty20 cricket but, even here, a catch dropped or a stumping missed can cost a side a game.”

On competition with Wriddhiman Saha for a Test spot, Ojha said, “Saha is good. We share a healthy rivalry. He looks good behind the stumps but he also drops catches. In fact, every ‘keeper will put down the odd catch. You must not look at that in isolation. It’s how effective you are over a period of time that counts. I feel I have been durable.”

Ojha admitted he was disappointed not to play the Adelaide Test last season when M.S. Dhoni was injured.

The Test opportunity finally came his way in Colombo last year. “I thought I did fairly well. I came up with scores of 21 and 35 and took a memorable catch.”

Being a wicketkeeper and an accumulator of runs, he has patience in plenty. Ojha is willing to wait for another opportunity with the Indian team.