He is positive

P. V. SIVAKUMAR

A 29-wicket Ranji effort in 2007 earned Pragyan Prayash Ojha an India ‘A’ place on the tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya and a home series against South Africa ‘A.’

Pragyan Prayash Ojha, picked for the coming Asia Cup in Pakistan and the tri-series in Bangladesh, is positive about everything he ventures into. This trait was quite evident in the recent DLF-Indian Premier League. Truly tight-fisted in conceding runs, the left-arm spinner was a game trier, especially when the going got tough. His craft came in handy against the big guns, such as Yuvraj Singh, M.S. Dhoni and Yousuf Pathan. Pummelled a couple of times by Pathan, Ojha had t he last laugh when he engineered his exit. So did the southpaw show his mettle in getting Dhoni out twice in both the outings against the Chennai Super Kings. Early days in the sport brought out the fighter in him.

Ignored for the under-17 competitions and bypassing the under-19 stage, the impact he made for Hyderabad’s under-22 squad was considerable, if his 23-wicket haul was any indication. In 2003, he was among the Ranji probables. His 55-wicket tally made Hyderabad the national under-22 champion in the following year. A seven-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals against Railways in 2004, his maiden season, attracted much attention.

Among the Indian Colts (under-19) against Australia, his three-wicket bag fetched victory. A 29-wicket Ranji effort in 2007 earned him an India ‘A’ place on the tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya and a home series against South Africa ‘A.’ The overseas trip yielded 26 wickets that included two five-wicket hauls and eight against the Proteas. His career-best figures were seven for 114 against Rajasthan at Jaipur in 2006-07. His Hyderabad, Duleep and Deccan Chargers captain V.V.S. Laxman has urged him to continue in his natural vein, Ojha’s variations likely to prove productive even on the lifeless tracks of Pakistan. In an earlier Indian camp at Kolkata for a Bangladesh tour, Ravi Shastri complimented him for flight and accuracy when bowling to Sachin Tendulkar in the nets. Anil Kumble urged him to focus/work on his strengths, rather than be distracted by weaknesses.

The Bhubaneshwar-born Ojha studies videos of Venkatapathy Raju, Bishan Bedi and Daniel Vettori and chills out with buddy M. P. Arjun or with his dogs Snow, Tyson and Jolly.

The Squad: Mahendra Sungh Dhoni (Captain/Wicketkeeper),Yuvraj Singh (Vice-captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, S. Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha.

A. Joseph Antony * * * Jayaprakash retires

A. V. Jayaprakash has retired from all forms of cricket after standing in the Indian Premier League match between Mumbai Indians and Bangalore Royal Challengers on May 28. Jayaprakash had retired from international umpiring in 2006.

The 58-year-old Jayaprakash, who took up umpiring after his first class career ended in 1985, said he was suffering from mental fatigue and was not enjoying the job anymore.

In his international umpiring career, from 1997 to 2006, Jayaprakash had officiated in 13 Tests and 38 ODIs.

The most memorable experience in his umpiring career was when Anil Kumble picked up all the 10 wickets in an innings in the second Test between India and Pakistan in Delhi in February 1999.