Ojha has taken 20 wickets in three Test matches against the West Indies. (AFP)
New Delhi: Foxed, deceived and bamboozled. That's what happened to the West Indies batsmen when they faced the Indian spin duo of Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin on Saturday, the final day of the third Test. Though Ashwin tricked the Caribbean batsmen with his guile, it was Ojha who enticed them with his tossed-up deliveries which resulted in false strokes and wickets on a platter.
The 25-year-old spinner yet again vindicated MS Dhoni's decision to start the day's proceedings with him. Adhering to a tidy line and offering little to work with, Ojha spun a web and reaped the rewards with his second six-wicket haul of the series. Interestingly, in doing so he became the first spinner in Test cricket to finish with five or more wickets while opening the bowling in an innings. The first five wickets to fall were all to Ojha, as the visitors surrendered eight wickets for 53 runs in the final morning.
He was well supported by Ashwin, who took four wickets – the last two in the same over – to make it nine for the match, in addition to a maiden Test century. But the man to trigger this spectacular collapse was Ojha, the more experienced bowler.
Having taken two wickets in the last session on Friday, Ojha struck early today when he induced a well-set Kraigg Brathwaite into cutting to Sachin Tendulkar at point. He followed it up with two more in his 22nd over, when he lured Darren Bravo, the first innings centurion, into a false stroke and had Marlon Samuels stumped. Bravo couldn't reach the well-flighted delivery and ended up miscuing it to present a simple return, while Samuels was enticed to play a reckless stroke when new to the crease.
With this performance, Ojha confirmed his place in the Test squad selected on Saturday for India’s tour of Australia. The left-armer, who made his debut in Kanpur against Sri Lanka in 2009, finished the series as the second highest wicket-taker with 20. Ashwin finished with two more in what has been a truly remarkable debut series.
The performance of the two Indian spinners forced the selectors to lock them in for the tour of Australia, leaving the door shut on Harbhajan Singh, India’s second most successful spinner. It was an emphatic statement from the two young spinners.