Mumbai: Pragyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma have known each other for years. They were teammates at the then Indian Premier League (IPL) outfit Deccan Chargers in 2008 and ever since, their friendship has strengthened.
Speaking on JioCinema, Ojha recalled the moment he first met Rohit formally in the U-15 national camp and how everyone was saying he was a special player.
"When I first met Rohit in the U-15 national camp, everyone said he was a very special player. There, I played against him and took his wicket. Rohit being a typical Bombay guy, didn't speak much but was aggressive when he played. In fact, I was very surprised as to why he was being so aggressive with me when we didn't know each other! But after that our friendship began to grow," Ojha remembered.
"He was from a middle-class family and I remember he once got emotional when we discussed how his budget for cricket kits was restricted. In fact, he also delivered milk packets - of course that was really a long time ago - so that he could buy his kit. Now when I see him, I feel very proud of how our journey started and where we reached," added Ojha.
The former Indian spinner recalled another incident that helped him strengthen his bond with Rohit. "Till the time Rohit got a chance to play for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy we had just known each other. But our friendship grew when we came to a common point. He was a good mimic and I really like people who can play pranks, and Rohit is among them. We used to feel the pressure of representing India at the U-19 level. So, whenever he saw that I was feeling the heat, he would mimic something that would release the tension and there was laughter all around."
Ojha then recalled the duo's days at Chargers during IPL in 2008. "In 2008, when T20 cricket was alien to a lot of people, we were playing for Deccan Chargers in IPL. At that time, Rohit made me understand how we can plan for T20s, and that even in T20 cricket you can become an aggressive bowler and pick wickets in the middle overs. From then on, I understood how he was thinking as a leader and how he tried to stay a step ahead of the rest."
On the morning of what would have been Rohit's Test debut in 2010 in Nagpur, he ended up twisting his ankle and had to wait for this ambition to be fulfilled for another three years. Ojha still remembers the determination Rohit showed thereafter. "After that injury, I remember him being so aggressive and determined for two reasons: one for making his Test debut, and second, to get the Test cap from Sachin Tendulkar."