Pragyan Ojha, the former India left-arm spinner, has been released by Bengal and is free to play for Hyderabad in this edition of the Ranji Trophy, the Cricket Association of Bengal said on Thursday (October 5) night.
Ojha had sought a No Objection Certificate from the CAB, citing personal reasons for wanting to move back to Hyderabad, whom he represented for ten seasons before moving to Bengal at the start of the 2015-16 season.
After he had sought the NOC from Sourav Ganguly, the CAB president, Ojha had gone incommunicado and was not named in the Bengal squad for the first two matches of this season, against Services and Chhattisgarh respectively.
Initially, Ganguly had turned down the request of the 31-year-old, stating that Bengal “needed his services”. However, there was a change of heart on Thursday night, as the CAB indicated through a press release.
“The CAB, after deliberating on the issue internally, has decided to allow him to play for his state,” the release said. “Pragyan Ojha today wrote to The Cricket Association of Bengal stating that due to family reasons it is difficult for him to leave Hyderabad.
“He also pleaded that it would be detrimental to his career if he missed matches at this stage. Citing above reasons, seeking NOC from CAB to play for Hyderabad, he requested that the matter may be considered sympathetically.”
Avishek Dalmiya, the CAB joint-secretary, added: “We had received a letter from Pragyan Ojha where he requested for the NOC to play for Hyderabad. The matter was discussed with the President. The matter has been considered sympathetically based on Mr Ojha’s request to the President and therefore the Association would have no objection if he plays for Hyderabad.”
Ojha fell out of contention for a place in the national side after his bowling action came under scrutiny in December 2014. He underwent remedial work and then moved to Bengal as a professional. In his first season, he finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker for his new state alongside Ashok Dinda, picking up 36 wickets at 24.36. Last year, however, his performance dipped drastically. Six matches netted him just 10 wickets at 39.40.
Ojha, 31, doesn’t figure in the Hyderabad squad for their opening Group A match against Maharashtra at the Gymkhana grounds in Secunderabad from Friday. It is possible, though, that he could be drafted in yet, given that it is a home game and Ojha is currently already in Hyderabad.
With 24 Tests, 18 One-Day Internationals and six Twenty20 Internationals under his belt, Ojha has a wealth of experience that Ambati Rayudu, the new Hyderabad captain, and J Arunkumar, the new coach, will be happy to tap into. Hyderabad reached the quarterfinals last season and will seek to go one better this time around, riding on the back of Ojha, who has 419 wickets in 104 first-class games to his credit at 28.19.