Could not say no to Ganguly's offer to play for Bengal, says Ojha

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Kolkata, July 2: Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was approached by Sourav Ganguly to turn out for Bengal for the upcoming domestic season, an offer that was so exciting that the India discard had to seek an emotional move from Hyderabad.

"Sourav spoke to me and said they're keen on having him in the Bengal side. It was so exciting for me that I could not turn it down. The main objective was to play for an Elite team to give push to my comeback. I've got the acceptance letter (contract) and my NOC is also ready," Ojha told PTI from Hyderabad.

File photo of Pragyan Ojha

He may belong to Odisha but Ojha has embraced Hyderabad since he represented them as a 14-year-old in 2001. He went on to represent India in 24 Tests and 18 ODIs.

Despite bagging 10 wickets and an Man-of-the-Match award in Sachin Tendulkar's swansong Test in Mumbai against the West Indies in 2013, Ojha was left out and then had a suspect bowling action.

Cleared by the BCCI after undergoing a rehabilitation programme earlier this year, Ojha found his career at the crossroads as playing for Hyderabad, who are struggling in the Plate Group, would make it difficult for him to wear India jersey again.

The discussions had begun during IPL when Mumbai Indians won the final by beating Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens here.

"That was the time when I was offered to play for Bengal by Sourav, and I could not turn it down," the Mumbai Indians spinner added.

The 28-year-old, who has been named in the Cheteshwar Pujara-led India 'A' side for two four-day games against Australia 'A' in Chennai from July 22-August 1, said he's confident after the rehab. "I played a Ranji match after the rehab - against Himachal - and got four wickets.

Then in Irani Cup and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20, I got four each. I'm confident of doing well for Bengal. Looking forward to bowl at Eden," Ojha said. Out of the India team for two years, Ojha is inspired by the comeback of ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

"He's been a great spinner for Indian cricket. I'm way behind him. I am just 28 and I think I still have many years of cricket left in me," Ojha signed off.

PTI

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