Considered as one of the most talented left-arm spinners in the country, Pragyan Ojha looked promising right from the word go.
Pragyan Ojha initially showed great promises in the age group-levels which he converted into first-class levels. He is a left arm-orthodox spinner and is known for his ability to flight the ball.
Ojha was born in Bhubaneswar, Odisha but shifted to Hyderabad at the age of thirteen for better education.
He was spotted by his coach T Vijay Paul and pursued professional cricket thereafter.
Ojha made his first-class debut in the 2004/05 season. He simultaneously represented India in Under-19s as well.
He made his Ranji Trophy debut against Railways where he bagged a five-wicket haul against them.
However, it was the 2006/07 season that brought him into the limelight.
He finished this season with 29 wickets at an average of 19.89 in just six games. Soon after, he came in contention for India A.
Ojha worked hard with his fitness. He spent hours in the gym and got rid of his baby fat.
He perfected his line and length by marking spots and trying to land the ball at particular spots.
The hard work paid off as he clinched 8 wickets against the touring South Africa A in November 2007, a team which comprised of big names like Hashim Amla, Boeta Dippenaar, Ashwell Prince and Justin Ontong.
He performed consistently for India A. This helped him bag an Indian Premier League contract with Hyderabad(Deccan Chargers).
ODI CALL – UP
It wasn’t long before Ojha got his ODI call-up.
He was picked for the tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan, in June 2008, after a successful season for the Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League where he bagged 11 wickets from 13 games.
He made his debut against Bangladesh and made an impact with a beautiful delivery that deceived Raqibul Hasan to secure his maiden wicket.
It was enough to win a place in India’s 2009 World T20 campaign, which he kicked off in style with an outstanding Man of the Match effort of 4/21 against Bangladesh.
Ojha was picked in the 16-man squad for the Sri Lanka series.
He didn’t get a game in the test series on that tour but performed considerably well in the few ODIs he played.
He had a great season with Deccan Chargers in IPL 2009, picking up 18 wickets at 19.33 before he was included in the squad for the home series against Sri Lanka in 2009.
TEST CRICKET JOURNEY
On 24 November 2009, Ojha made his Test debut in the Second Test against Sri Lanka in Kanpur, replacing the leg spinner Amit Mishra and grabbed figures of 2/37 and 2/36.
It was India’s 100th Test win. He then took five wickets in the Third Test, which was yet another win for India.
He ended up taking nine wickets in two Tests.
Ojha then started a memorable partnership with R Ashwin by taking 20 wickets in the 2011 home Test series against the Windies and 13 the following year against New Zealand.
In IPL 2010, he was awarded the Purple Cap for picking up the most number of wickets in the tournament.
And He became the first spinner to do so. He has been part of three IPL winning teams (1 for Deccan Chargers & 2 for Mumbai Indians) & 1 Champions League for Mumbai Indians.
On 21 February 2020, he announced his retirement from all forms of the game.
Pragyan Ojha ended up with 48 international games, 24 Tests, 18 ODIs and 6 T20Is from 2008 to 2013.
In his last game for India in 2013, he played against West Indies, which was Sachin Tendulkar’s final match and he finished the match with figures of 10 for 89 and was adjudged the Man of the Match.
He has represented Hyderabad, Bengal, and Bihar in Ranji Trophy and has played for Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Pragyan Ojha is arguably the best cricketer of Odia origin.