Previously titled the Orissa, the Odisha cricket team hails from the Indian state with the same name and has been home to some spectacularly talented players. The team was founded in 1949 and made its first-class debut in the same year.
Playing in the Ranji Trophy domestic competition, the team failed to make a name for itself during the first championship it took part in, losing to the Bihar cricket team by an embarrassing 356 runs. Soon after, they finally secured their first victory in the 1952–1953 championship.
Until 1983, the team was limited to competing against East Zone teams, as they failed to advance far enough into the Ranji Trophy tournament to encounter teams from other regions. They finally faced a team from outside the East Zone in 1983 when they qualified to compete in the quarterfinals.
With the introduction of new exemplary players over the years, the team has become a formidable force. By the late 2010s, the team had won the Ranji Trophy a total of 64 times, alongside 126 championships that ended in a draw. What’s more, four of its top players were chosen to represent the country in international games. Read on to learn who they are.
Born in 1947, Debashish began his career with Odisha in 1996. A medium-paced bowler, he was quickly highlighted for his exceptional ability to take wickets with seeming ease. This ability put him on the radar for the national team, and within a year of professional play, he was drafted to represent India.
By 1999, Debashish was recognized as second only to Javagal Smith in taking the most wickets for India. With an average of less than 30 runs and one wicket per game, Debashish was lauded for his performance representing the country.
While excelling when playing for the national team, Debashish’s crowning achievement was during a regular first-class match in the 2000–2001 season. During the game, he managed to take all ten opposition wickets for only 46 runs.
His performance set him up for coaching after retiring from play. In 2020, he was elected national selector for the Indian cricket team.
Although he never played for the Odisha cricket team, Pragyan Ojha was born in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. At the age of 18, he began his cricketing career representing India on the national under-19 team. Playing for the Hyderabad cricket team, he achieved 29 wickets in the 2006–2007 season, catching the attention of many in the industry.
In 2008, Pragyan made his debut representing India at an ODI against Bangladesh. Taking two wickets for 43 runs, he gave an impressive performance, setting the bar for future games. A year later, he played his first game of Twenty20 cricket, securing the title of Man of the Match.
Also playing for the IPL in between matches with the national team, Pragyan garnered a large fanbase due to his incredible bowling ability. However, after an inquiry in 2014, he was banned from bowling for bending his elbow beyond 15 degrees. The ban caused a significant uproar and affected match predictions for all formats of the game he was to partake in. Fortunately, it was later overturned.
By the time he announced his resignation from all forms of the sport, Ojha had represented India in 48 games. During his final game, he finished by taking all 10 wickets for just 89 runs, earning him the title of Man of the Match.
Shiv Sunder Das
Shiv Sunder Das was born in 1977 and began his professional career in 2002 as the third player from Odisha to ever represent the national team. Before this, he was part of the first intake to the National Cricket Academy in India in 2000.
Seen as a true test opener, Shiv was selected to play for the national team on a tour of the West Indies. However, after failing to impress by not reaching even 50 runs throughout the tour, his dreams of a long career with the national team were short-lived.
In total, Shiv played alongside the national team in 23 games—all test matches. His biggest successes came from games against Zimbabwe, in which he gained a century on two occasions. He is also noted for achieving 250 runs against Essex County Cricket Club while on a tour of England.
Sanjay Raul may not have an extensive career with the national team, but he has an excellent reputation with the Odisha cricket team. Born in 1976, he debuted on the national team as part of an ODI against Pakistan in 1998. Unfortunately, his lacklustre performance didn’t garner him any notable recognition.
The following and final time he represented India was in another ODI against Pakistan later in the same year. Many expected him to perform better following a very successful previous season for Odisha in 1996–1997, in which he took 37 wickets and made 644 runs. This performance beat the bowling and betting averages for the domestic team at the time.
However, he again underperformed in further international challenges. Although he was captain of both the Indian under-19 team and the Odisha team at one point, he failed to achieve any notable success for the country.
Odisha Players in the IPL
Aside from being chosen for the national squad, being selected by a team to play in the IPL is a great honour and opportunity for any Indian player. Teams in this league are incredibly particular about who they select due to the intense competition in the tournament.
However, Odisha has had several players who transitioned from domestic teams to some of the best teams in the IPL. These players are:
- Biplab Samantray, who played for the Sunrisers Hyderabad between 2012 and 2015
- Pragyan Ojha, who has been part of the Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers
- Halhadar Das, member of the Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders
- Subhranshu Senapati, current player for the Chennai Super Kings