Pragyan Ojha retires from international cricket

The 33-year-old last played for India in 2013 during Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell Test against the West Indies in Mumbai.

Pragyan Ojha during a promotional event in Hyderabad.   -  K.V.S. GIRI

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha on Friday decided to announce his retirement from all forms of the game. He made the decision known through his statement to the Board which he put on twitter.

“It was a hard decision but we all have to move on. I decided to move forward, a lesson I learnt from Sachin Tendulkar. I have no regrets and cherish every moment of my association with this great game,” Ojha, 33, told Sportstar.

Breaking into the Indian team at Kanpur against Sri Lanka in 2009, giving off-spinner Harbhajan Singh company as a slow bowler, Ojha began with two wickets in each innings but signed off in style four years later at Wankhede Stadium in 2013 with the 'man of the match' honours against the West Indies.

“It was a co-incidence that it was to become the final Test appearance for me and Sachin. He had always wanted me to remember the winning moments and that match will remain very special because I contributed to the win,” said Ojha, who claimed five for 40 and five for 49 to make it a memorable outing.

“It was great that I was able to play for India. That will remain the highlight of my cricket career. Rest is all secondary. To be part of a team that had legends like Viru (Sehwag), Sachin, VVS (Laxman) Rahul (Dravid), MS (Dhoni), Yuvi (Yuvraj), Bhajju (Harbhajan), Zak (Zaheer Khan) was such an honour. Could I have asked for more,” he added.

On his decision to quit, Ojha said, “There was no point in continuing when there was no chance for me to make an India comeback. I had remodeled my action (in 2014) but I was not able to impress the selectors despite taking wickets (for India A). I was only going to block some youngster’s place. Every season could be crucial for a young player wanting to make a mark. We all have to move on at some stage in life.”

Ojha picked the Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 2010 as one of his finest cricket memory.

“It was only my sixth Test and we had to win that match to draw the series. I was happy to take seven wickets in that match and contribute to an Indian victory,” he remembered.

Pragyan Ojha's last Test appearance came during Sachin Tendulkar's farewell game.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

 

Ojha accounted for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena in both the innings.

“Getting them twice in the same match was special as we became No 1 Test team for the first time ever,” he said.

Harbhajan had to miss that match on account of swine-flu illness and Ojha did a brilliant job, much to the delight of the Indian team.

Another lasting memory for Ojha was the very next match, within two months, against Australia at Mohali when he partnered Laxman in a tight finish as India won by one wicket.

Chasing 216 to win, India was 205 for nine when Ojha joined Laxman in the middle. “Every run we added was priceless as Laxman pulled off a sensational win single-handed.”

Laxman remained unbeaten with a magnificent 73 and Ojha made five to frustrate Australia.

On what became his final Test appearance, Ojha recalled, “It was a great feeling to share the dressing room with Sachin in his last match. What an atmosphere it was! I was part of history.”

Ojha made his first-class debut for Hyderabad in 2005 before turning out for Bengal from 2015 to 2017. He played four matches for Bihar (2018) before deciding to “move on.”

Ojha, who would not mind a coaching assignment in the future, will be seen in the role of a commentator in domestic cricket and the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).

Pragyan OjhaTestsODIsT20IsFirst- ClassList-AT20s
Matches24186108103142
Wickets1132110424123156

 

Sportstar accessed the letter that Ojha sent to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly. Here is the full statement.

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter to tender my formal retirement from international and first-class cricket, with immediate effect.

To be an Indian cricketer and represent the country at the highest level was always a dream I cherished as a youngster. I fall short of words to describe how fortunate I have been to have lived my dream and earned the love and respect of my fellow countrymen.

For a sportsperson, there cannot be a greater reward.

My eventful career has witnessed many ups and downs. Over the time, I have realized that the legacy of a sportsperson is not just the outcome of his hard work and dedication, but also the faith and guidance bestowed upon by the association (team management), teammates, coaches, trainers, and the fans. Their belief fills you with a strong sense of purpose and belonging.

I am indebted to the BCCI for giving me this extraordinary opportunity and putting their belief in me. It has been an absolute honour to be associated with the Board, an association that has shaped my professional life and also enriched my personal development.

I have been a part of the Hyderabad Cricket Association for close to 14 years, and the incredible experience I have gained will have an everlasting impact. I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the Association who have supported me through these years.

I am thankful to the Cricket Association of Bengal and Mr. Saurav Ganguly for extending their unwavering support during a rough patch of my career.  I also appreciate the Bihar Cricket Association for allowing me to lead their team for the short duration that I spent with them.

My journey with the Indian Premier League has also been a memorable one and the Purple Cap win will always be an indelible memory - a special mention of the teams Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians for making me a part of their legacy.

Pragyan Ojha and VVS Laxman after pulling off a thrilling run-chase in the first Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia in Mohali.   -  K.R. Deepak

 

My humble salute to all my seniors and teammates from whom I draw immense inspiration, and who have helped me to strive to be a better sportsperson. I am very thankful to Mr. V.V.S. Laxman for mentoring me like an elder brother, Mr. Venkatapathy Raju for being the role model I always looked to emulate, Mr. Harbhajan Singh for being a constant adviser and Mr. M.S. Dhoni for providing me with the honorable opportunity to wear the Indian Cap.

I extend my regards to my contemporaries Mr.Rohit Sharma and Mr. Manoj Tiwary who have shared many eventful moments with me. My Hyderabad teammates - Mr. Amol Shinde, Mr. M.P. Arjun, Mr.  Alfred Absolom and Mr.P.S Niranjan have been an integral and inseparable part of my journey. My utmost gratitude to Mr. Arjun Yadav who was the first captain I played under during my Ranji Trophy debut and also Mr. Kanwaljit Singh who coached me during the early phases of my career.

My journey would not be the same without the love and support of my parents - Mrs. Bidulata Ojha and Mr. Maheswar Ojha, my loving wife Mrs. Karabee Kailash and my younger brother Prateek Ojha. Their presence in my life has given me unending strength and helped me carry on each time I hit a bump. I cannot thank enough my uncle and aunt, Mr. Chakradhar Moharana and Mrs. Gitisudha Moharana, who supported me through the budding days of my career, making their home - a home away from home for me.

I am thankful to my childhood coach, Late Mr. T. Vijaya Paul, who instilled in me the love for the sport of cricket, my school - Bhavan's Sri Rama Krishna Vidyalaya, all its authorities and my childhood friends - Mr. Subhendu Mohapatra, Mr. Sanal Menon, Mr. C.J.Raghavendra, Mr.Vishal Saxena, Mr. Adarsh and Mr.Kartik Das who have constantly been there for me until this day, witnessing my entire journey. I acknowledge my indebtedness to all of them.

I am further thankful to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) for my congenial association with them for the past twelve years.

I will reminisce about the enthusiasm and passion of all my fans and the support of the media fondly.

My profound regards to every person I have been unable to mention here who have contributed to my journey at its different stages enabling me to be the best version of myself, both on and off the field.

Lastly, I am certain that looking back at my career will always fill me with a sense of pride. The most memorable moments would be receiving my Test Cap from Mr. Sachin Tendulkar and accomplishing the feat of taking 100 test wickets. I hope to continue contributing towards the growth of Indian Cricket in every capacity possible.

As I enter a new phase of my life, I am really looking forward to teaching the important life lessons I have learned on the way to my son Yohaan.

Thanking you.

Yours faithfully,

Pragyan Prayash Ojha

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