Thinking about selection puts a lot of pressure: Ojha
Pragyan Ojha has not yet given up. He might have fallen in the pecking order behind Ravindra Jadeja as the third specialist spinner with remote chances of playing a Test series overseas but the Odisha-born Hyderbad left-arm spinner is not ready to throw in the towel yet.
Ojha, who has got 100 wickets from 22 Tests and is currently on 113 wickets from 24 Tests, is waiting for his turn to play for India outside the sub-continent.
"I just keep my cool and focus on my game rather than thinking about my selection. Selection matters are not in my hands but what is in my hand is my own performance. My job is to perform for the country and keep myself focused on job at hand," Ojha said.
"These thoughts fill your mind with negativity and hamper your performance. It's important to remain positive and leave selection matters to the selectors," the left-arm spinner added.
Image: Pragyan Ojha
'I will wait for my chance'
Ojha doesn't want to put too much pressure on himself on his non-selection.
"If I start thinking about all this (did not get a game in South Africa and was not part of the New Zealand tour), seriously, I would be putting a lot of pressure on myself. I don't want these factors to affect my game. I will wait for my chances and I am confident that one day I will get it. I don't want to get into the negative side of my thoughts".
"Selection matters are something which you cannot question. My job is to perform whenever I get a chance to don the national colours," he said.
In the last Test match that Ojha played, he finished with a match-haul of 10 wickets in legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test in Mumbai in November against the West Indies. However to be fair, the match was played on a rank turner and Caribbeans didn't have a great batting line-up to encounter Ojha and Ashwin.
Image: Pragyan Ojha
My job is to remain focused
Ojha could consider himself unlucky for not being able to board the flight to New Zealand despite Ashwin's poor show with the ball in the first Test against South Africa as all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's six-wicket haul in the second Test at Durban sealed his place in the team for the two-Test series against the Black Caps.
The fact that both Ashwin and Jadeja can bat well lower down the order would have tilted scales in their favour. Also, considering the seamer-friendly wickets in New Zealand, India would have needed a more pace-heavy line-up.
So, did he feel disappointed? "At the end of the day, we are all human beings. Sometimes, you feel disappointed but how do you come out of that phase, how do you make a comeback, that's make for a better cricketer. That's the biggest art. Only by performing consistently, you can make a comeback into the team. My job is to remain focused."
Ojha also had a word of advice for Ashwin, who has been struggling to replicate his form outside India and has taken a single wicket in his last seven international outings.
"He is also a human being and ups and downs are part of the life of a sportsperson. He is a good spinner. It's about making a strong comeback and prove yourself. Had I been in his place and going through the same lean phase, I would have worked harder and let the ball do the talking. I wouldn't have allowed the critics to sit back and talk about my performance."
Image: R Ashwin with Pragyan Ojha