Colombo, Sept 1: The freak injury to Wriddhiman Saha opened the door for him after a "long wait", but wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha, despite showing some promising signs in his debut Test, failed to capitalise over the situation.
The 32-year-old Madhya Pradesh stumper had a golden opportunity in his hands after he was handed over the Test cap in the 3rd and decisive Test match against Sri Lanka. Expectations were high from an 'experienced' Ojha that he will soak in the pressure and deliver when it comes to prove his mettle, but alas!
Naman Ojha failed to encash a golden opportunity:
The wicket-keeper batsman, who has performed exceptionally well in the domestic circuit, too failed to impress with the bat, though he performed his duty behind the stumps well.
Ojha, who has an experience of playing 112 first class matches and scored 7810 runs with an average of 43.63, failed to leave a mark in his debut match.
Overcoming the initial jitters, Ojha spent fair enough time on the crease (in the first innings) and constructed a crucial 54-run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara. But, he threw away his wicket after playing irresponsible stroke at an individual score of 21.
Same was the case in the 2nd innings when Ojha took his time on the crease to settle but once again played a lofted shot and paid the price. This time around he scored 35 runs and could have easily scored a fifty in his debut match for the ball was coming nicely on his bat. [Rohit Sharma sends out 'irrelevant' message to his critics]
This proves that despite overcoming the early jitters the right-handed batter succumbed to the pressure of a debut match. Hence, it won't be wrong to say that Ojha has just missed the golden opportunity of making a statement in front of the selectors that he could be a better alternative to Wriddhiman Saha.
Saha likely to be the first choice of selectors
Saha, who was handed over the gloves after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from Test, performed well in the first two games against Sri Lanka. The Bengal wicketkeeper, who's just 7 Test matches old, is trying to cement is position in the Test squad. But, he hasn't yet played a significant knock that could prove that he'll carry MS Dhoni's legacy forward.
Thus, a solid performance from Ojha could have set the alarm bells ringing for Saha ahead of a crucial series at home against South Africa in October. Had Ojha managed to score a fifty in any of the innings he could troubled the minds of selectors when they would sit to choose the Test squad against Proteas.
It now seems that Saha would definitely get a preference over Ojha who just could not reap the opportunity. Although its too tough too judge Ojha's from his performance with just one game but given the competition, it is highly unlikely that he will be given a preference over Saha.
Indian cricket trying to complicate things over selection of wicket keepers?
It's time India gives chance to young wicketkeeper for it will give the team a long term solution. Keeping wickets is a tough job for it requires lot of flexibility and fitness. But a cricketer's reflexes start deteriorating after 30 years. Hence, it becomes tough for players to stand behind the wickets in Tests.
Keeping this in mind, most of the teams prefer going with youngsters in Test. One of the biggest reasons for a Test side to become successful is to have a dependable wicket-keeper batsman. The reason for success of the likes of MS Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher is that they were picked up in early stages of their career.
Relying over old wicket-keepers means they will not be able to serve for long and hence it will complicate things for the team as well as for the board.
Hence, its time Indian selectors and the BCCI repose their faith in a young wicket-keeper batsman for he will provide the side much needed stability. And there is no dearth of young stumpers in the country all it will take is some patience and keep faith in his capabilities.