Keeping healthy with the bat in hand

During the course of this series, Wriddhiman Saha has once again proved that he is one of the best 'keeper in the country. AFP

Wriddhiman Saha drew praise for his wicketkeeping technique when he entered the Indian side. The ongoing three-match series against South Africa – his comeback into the national side after a lengthy layoff – further strengthened the popular belief that he is one of the best in the country behind the stumps. Saha, however, has time and again stressed that he wants to be a handy contributor with the bat as well.

Saha has replaced Rishabh Pant, someone with a better batting record than the Bengal player in the longer format. The young Delhiite, with an average of 44.35 from 11 Tests, boasts of Test centuries in Australia and England. While there was no dearth of audacity and flair in those two tons, the circumstances under which Pant essayed the knocks were far from testing.  

Saha has done enough with the gloves in the two Tests to deserve a decent run but consistency with runs can wipe out his insecurities, if any. Speaking on Saha, former India captain and BCCI president elect Sourav Ganguly had recently said how scoring runs will augur well for the 34-year-old.

“I am always looking to contribute with the bat. When I am in the middle, I try to forge partnerships of 50 or 100. Sometimes it won’t happen and that’s natural,” Saha told reporters here on Friday.

More than flamboyance, Saha’s batting is marked with grit. The JSCA International stadium complex is sure to bring pleasant memories for the right-hander. Two years ago, Saha slammed a gutsy 117 that played a crucial role in India gaining a first innings lead against Australia. “I remembered how I approached that innings and struck a century. I always wait for such chances,” he said.

The cricketing world was divided over Pant’s exclusion but Saha maintained that the duo shares a great relationship. “Our rapport is really good. We discuss a lot. He points out my mistakes whenever he observes them. I sat out in the West Indies but I gave him feedback during training sessions,” he offered.  

Skipper Virat Kohli’s brilliant double ton was undoubtedly the best performance of the second Test but Saha made headlines with his superman-like wicketkeeping, earning him accolades from his team-mates.  “I owe a treat to Saha. Those two wickets belong to him,” pacer Umesh Yadav had said after the wicketkeeper had pulled off two stunning catches off his bowling.

“Wicketkeeping is a thankless job. Everybody thinks just because we have worn gloves, we can catch everything. We prepare according to the nature of wickets. Well, talking about those two catches, credit goes to Umesh also. He created the chances in both the innings. Luckily, I was able to latch on to those catches. I have kept wickets to Ashwin and Jaddu (Jadeja) for a long time now and I have got used to their variations and pace." he explained.  

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