New Delhi: Naman Ojha's name has been in contention for a while owing to his stupendous form with the bat in the past 12 months and the Madhya Pradesh wicketkeeper-batsman is therefore "not surprised" at his inclusion in the 19-member Test squad for the Australia tour.
"I am happy that I am a part of the Test squad but I must say that I was hopeful after my performances for India A in Australia and Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy. I have played first-class cricket for a while but this is the best phase of my career as far as batting is concerned," the 31-year Naman told PTI from Nagpur, where he is playing for his state in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Ojha will be vying for a Test spot alongside Wriddhiman Saha as regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will not play in the first Test. But he is not at all perturbed about the fact that Saha is way ahead in contention for a Test berth.
"I don't want to think about competition and me standing at a threshold of a Test debut. I will try my best to perform in the practice games and take it from there," said Ojha, who is expected to come back once Dhoni lands in Australia before the second Test.
For Ojha the last four months have been like a dream as he scored a hat-trick of centuries (219 no, 101 no and 110) for India A in Australia followed by 217 against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy.
"Obviously, scoring runs in Australia gave me tremendous confidence. I got the self belief that I could score runs in alien conditions against international bowlers (James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh, Moises Henriques were in 'A' team). The best part was that I was consistent throughout," said Ojha, who scored 61 in his team's five-wicket loss to Railways on Monday.
Asked about his last four centuries, Ojha rated his second innings knock of 101 not out against Australia 'A' at the Allan Border ground in Brisbane as his best so far in first-class cricket.
"Keeping my first innings double hundred in mind, I would rate my second innings century as a better effort. We were five wickets down for less than 100 runs and there was a chance of losing the Test match. So that particular knock was special for me."
The glovesman feels that scoring more than 1000 runs in the last Ranji Trophy (1035 runs) was also a high point for him.
"As a player, you want to consistently notch up big scores and I was able to do that successfully in the Ranji Trophy last season. I would like to transform that in international cricket also," said Ojha, who feels that he has transformed as a batsman after his exclusive sessions with Mumbai coach Praveen Amre, who takes private classes for players like Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane to name a few.