Exclusive Interview: Pragyan Ojha talks career, IPL, post-retirement plans

Hyderabad: Veteran Indian cricketer and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha bid adieu to his 12-year cricketing career on 21 February. In an exclusive Interview with Newsmeter he talked about his career, future plans, HCA, and Sourav Ganguly.

How did you take the decision to retire?

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who’ve been part of this journey and the dream that I’ve lived. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been what I am today. At the same time, it’s not about age. It’s that stage in life when you know you need to move beyond what you’ve already done. After 2013, till 2018 I saw myself and performed in various domestic tournaments and I’ve realised that Indian cricket has moved on and I should also move on for someone to live their dream.

You first burst onto the scene in 2006-07 playing Ranji Trophy. When did you realise you would play for India?
It was different for me. When I started playing Ranji Trophy, I didn’t think too far ahead. I only thought of doing well for my state. I remember V.V.S Laxman had joined the team for a couple of games and then he called me to his room to talk. When I went in, he just told me to be consistent and do well for the team as these games were crucial and serious and this is how they rate you. When someone like V.V.S Laxman speaks to you, you realise that it is something very serious and the time has come.

Speaking of V.V.S Laxman, one incident that the whole world remembers is the Mohali Test in 2010. That partnership, tell us about it.

I think it was very simple. The effort he’s put in with a stiff back. He also had a runner in Suresh Raina. The effort Ishant Sharma put in. He never wanted the team to lose. Maybe, he was animated to have me at the other end. He’s known me since my childhood. He knows that I cannot afford to make any mistake. He’s an elder brother. That’s what happens when someone knows you from the beginning. That’s how he wanted to express it. That’s alright when it comes to winning a game. When you need to do it, you need to do it. Because it’s your country.

How would you describe your Test career in words?

It’s always special when you look back. One of the highs of my career would be receiving my Test cap. Because that’s what you aim for when you’re young. When you train, that’s what you dream of. The platform that I got from my home association, it made sure that I lived my dream.

Talk us through the Wankhede Test. Tendulkar’s last test, Wankhade, perfect sendoff?

I have been fortunate to be a part of that historic Test series. Picking 10 wickets and being the Man of the Match was very special. That’s the least I could do for a man who did so much for Indian cricket.

You’ve been part of three champion IPL teams. Once with Deccan Chargers and twice with Mumbai Indians. Which was the best one?

It’s very difficult. When you talk about IPL, it’s a long tournament. You play 14 games, the playoffs, and then the finals. You need to perform consistently for 40-45 days. So when you win the tournament, you cannot differentiate whether it is DC or MI. It is very special.

Did you think you would get the Purple cap in the third edition?

I think I believed that I could do really well for my team. My only motivation was I should win games for my team. Personal milestones, I believe they come to you. You don’t go for them. You win games for the team. They are the rewards you get when you do well for the team. I think this was a reward.

How would you put your domestic career in words?

Hyderabad will be more emotional because that is where I started playing. This is where I learned cricket. This is where I became who I am today. I’m really thankful to CAB, Dada for giving me the opportunity after my remodelled action, then backed me. We did really well to qualify for the quarter-finals. I was the joint highest wicket-taker for them that season. It was only due to the support and the guidance by Bengal and Dada.

How do you think Sourav Ganguly is doing as the BCCI chief?

I think it’ll be superb. It’ll take some time because there was a lot going on as far as BCCI is concerned. Right now, we’ve got someone who played so much cricket, dominated world cricket, and one of the finest leaders of Indian cricket. I think BCCI is in the right hands. The steps that’ll be taken for the present and future will be very fruitful.

How will Pragyan Ojha be off the field?

As of now, I’m looking to get into commentary. I’ve really not thought about coaching which I feel is very very important for me to be 100 per cent there and when you know that you have somebody else’s career in your hands, you have to be very careful and delicate with the way you handle it. As of now, I’m not ready mentally. Once I’m ready, I’ll make sure I give my very best.

Where would you put HCA’s cricket as of today?

I think Hyderabad didn’t have a very good season. As a senior member of the side, I would love to see Hyderabad do well and perform consistently, the way they’ve done throughout the years. I think the think-tanks would do their job really well and maybe from the next season we’ll see some changes for the good.

Anurag Mallick

A sports enthusiast, Anurag Mallick is currently working with Newsmeter as a reporter. He is a mass communication graduate from Loyola Academy. He is also a budding presenter and loves talking in front of the camera. His future aim is to discuss cricket professionally. He has earlier interned with a YouTube Channel, "Hind ki Pukaar" where he spoke on various topics infront of the camera. He has also interned with "WrytIn", a content writing platform, where he wrote articles on sports & entertainment. "Lights, Camera, Cricket" is what sums him up. He also loves playing cricket and other sports like Badminton & Volleyball.

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