Wriddhiman Saha- The comeback man for team India
Wriddhiman Saha is back in the India team in the ongoing Test against South Africa. Saha was out of international cricket for a period of nearly 21 months due to an injury but given his exploits as a wicketkeeper, he has forced his way back into the Test team.
Saha, has been one of the best keepers in the country and had an opportunity to be a regular part of the Test team only after the retirement of MS Dhoni in 2014.
Saha has had a stop-start international career and has seen many ups and downs. He has made numerous comebacks in the Indian team in the last nine years and has always given his best on the cricket field.
Given his strong performances in domestic cricket and List A cricket throughout his career, he has always been the go-to man for team India in the last decade or so. He was always the back-up keeper when MS.Dhoni was keeping wickets in Tests. In 172 first-class innings, the keeper batsman averages 43.07 with 13 hundreds to his credit. He has been exceptional behind the stumps and has effected 34 stumpings and taken 288 catches and is an exceptional keeper. He averages 42.49 in List A cricket and has impressed every time he has got opportunities.
Early days in International cricket
Saha rose to the limelight when he scored a century on debut in first-class cricket and since then has scaled heights in domestic cricket.
An injury to Rohit Sharma and V. V. S. Laxman in the home series against South Africa at Nagpur in 2010 saw Saha making his debut as a specialist batsman. He failed to open his account in the first innings and could manage 36 runs in the second innings before falling to Dale Steyn .
After a not-so impressive debut, Saha had to wait for a couple of years to play his second Test. Dhoni was banned for slow over-rate after the 3rd Test against Australia in the Border Gavaskar Trophy at Perth in 2012 and Saha being the reserve keeper was called up for the 4th Test against Australia in Adelaide. Saha could manage to score 35 and 3 in the first and second innings respectively. He took a catch in each of the innings and kept well.
His third Test was another long wait for two more years. An injury to M.S. Dhoni in the Adelaide Test in the Australian summer of 2014 meant that Saha was an obvious choice in the playing 11. Saha did not wait for long before playing his fourth Test. After the sudden retirement of M.S. Dhoni, Saha took up the responsibility behind the stumps in Sydney.
The retirement of Dhoni at the end of the year 2014 suddenly opened the doors for Wriddhiman Saha to keep wickets in the Indian Test team. Saha was the obvious choice to succeed Dhoni after being in his shadow for nearly five years after making his debut for India in Test cricket.
Since then he was the regular wicket-keeper batsman for team India and cemented his place in the Test team until the beginning of the year 2018. In 46 Test innings till date, the wicket-keeper batsman has scored 1164 runs at an average of 30. 63 with three Test hundreds. He has been flawless behind the stumps and has effected 85 dismissals which include 75 catches and 10 stumpings.
Saha lost his place in the Indian team after the tour of South Africa due to a shoulder injury which kept him out of competitive cricket for nearly a year. During the said period, Rishabh Pant made considerable progress as a wicket-keeper batsman and cemented his place in the Test team. Though Pant was not as flawless as Saha behind the stumps, he scored hundreds in England and Australia and became the first Indian keeper to achieve the feat.
Saha was a part of the Indian team which toured West Indies last month but could not find his place in the playing 11. Pant averaged 19.33 in 3 innings in West Indies but was impressive behind the stumps.
The team management has gone back to the experienced Saha to keep wickets in the first Test against South Africa. The 34-year-old keeper batsman has been exceptional behind the stumps to the spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja and his experience of keeping on Indian pitches will be handy for team India.
The series against South Africa will be a golden opportunity for Saha to establish his place in the Indian team once again. He is the best glove man in the country at present.
Saha has played well for India in the past and will look to replicate his past performances with the bat to repay the faith shown by the team management. He has batted well with the tail in the past and can score vital runs lower down the order. Saha is 34 and has 2 to 3 seasons of cricket left in him if he manages to stay fully fit. He can even be a role model for someone like Pant who has a lot to learn from Saha as far as keeping skills are concerned.
Published 02 Oct 2019, 13:38 IST