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Ojha & Ashwin: Not Contemporary Greats But Utterly Useful

This is a bowling partnership that the Indian team had been praying for some time now. Strangely, Kumble and Harbhajan never managed to create the kind of spin combo that the Indian team and fans had always hoped. This is despite Bhajji and Kumble having played together for nearly a decade. In stark contrast to this, Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin seem to be gelling rather well.

The Similarities: Both Ashwin & Ojha are traditional spinners. I am referring to the fact that they depend upon flighting and allowing the pitch to play its part. While Bhajji has always been too quick to be labeled a typical off-spinner, Kumble was a far cry from being your conventional leg spinner. Some cricketing experts have even labeled Kumble as being a skiddish seam bowler with a leg-spinners' action. Even more, both Ashwin & Ojha are equally poor fielders. Both of them are slow to move and even worse in anticipating where the ball is going is going in the outfield.

The Challenge: Ashwin & Ojha face the challenge of keeping their places cemented in the Test squad. This is not surprising since Dhoni and the selectors in general seem to have an inclination towards retaining Harbhajan Singh irrespective of the number of times the Turbanotor fails to deliver. Secondly, with more than 300 test wickets to his credit and a couple of test centuries coming in the recent past, Bhajji will always be preferred, i.e. the moment either Ojha or Ashwin err the slightest in their performance.

Conclusion: The left-arm and leg-spin combination is working fine for India at the moment but calling either Ashwin or Ojha "great" is premature and uncalled for. Nearly everybody would agree that both of them are essentially bowlers with limited talent but an appreciable talent. Both of them need to work upon their overall fitness and fielding to ensure that they can contribute beyond the bowling aspect only.

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