Chennai: Disappointment was palpable on Naman Ojha’s face when he spoke about the experience of his Australia tour. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was the hero of India A’s tour down under earlier this year, is back to play Ranji Trophy matches for Madhya Pradesh after skipper M.S. Dhoni recovered from an injury to join the team for the second Test in Brisbane that India lost on Saturday.
Despite his splendid performance scored three consecutive centuries (including a double ton) in two unofficial Tests in Australia in July, Ojha had to warm the bench in the Adelaide Test as well as in the two tour games. “Selection is not in my hands. My job is to perform and I have done that, commandingly,” said Ojha. Ojha’s performance in Australia did earn him a maiden call-up to the India Test squad for the last two games in England as a replacement for backup keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
But he didn’t get any opportunity to show his mettle. And when M.S. Dhoni was out on rehabilitation, Saha pipped Ojha for the wicketkeeper slot in the playing XI for the first Test. While Saha came under criticism for throwing his wicket away when India were cruising in their chase at Adelaide, all three of Ojha’s centuries in Australia came as No.7 batsman with the team at a precarious position. Moreover, he scored runs after long spells of keeping wickets. He continued his rich vein of form in the domestic season by scoring a double hundred for Central Zone against North in the Duleep Trophy.
Ojha doesn’t know what else he has to do for an opportunity. “I think I have done my job. The hundred in the second innings of the first unofficial Test in Brisbane was special as it helped India save the game. We were five down for 50 when I came into the middle. I played out two sessions with Ambati Rayudu and forced a draw. The Aussie attack had the likes of James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Ben Cutting. Nathan Lyon came in for the following game and I got runs against him too. Overall, the tour boosted my confidence level,” said Ojha, whose only international appearance came in 2010 when India had sent a second-rung ODI team to Zimbabwe. “I haven’t set up any target for this Ranji season. I am just going to enjoy my performance. Let’s see. God will decide,” he added.