‘Neither Insecure Of, nor in Competition with Rishabh’: Saha

Considered the safest glovesman in the country, Saha hasn’t played a Test match for India since January 2018.

3 min read
Rishabh Pant has been India’s preferred first-choice wicketkeeper in Tests since Wriddhiman Saha’s injury.

Rishabh Pant's ascendancy as India's premier Test wicketkeeper has not made Wriddhiman Saha “insecure” even one bit as he doesn't believe that he is in competition with the Delhi glovesman.

Saha, one of India's more technically accomplished ‘keepers, has recently made a comeback for Bengal in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy after being out of competitive cricket owing to shoulder surgery last year.

In the interim, young Pant has made an impression with the bat, scoring Test hundreds in England and Australia.

Has the long lay-off, and Pant’s emergence, made Saha insecure?

“Not at all. I was not insecure. Being a sportsman you always run the risk of getting injured. The aim was to be fully fit and return stronger.”
Wriddhiman Saha

Sceptics have cast doubts that Pant’s batting ability could make an international comeback difficult for the Bengal stumped, but Saha, who scored 306 runs in 11 games on his return in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, remains unfazed.

“I was out with an injury. Rishabh grabbed his chance and scored runs on a consistent basis. Now my aim is to get back to form and try to make a comeback in the Indian line-up. That’s purely my focus and I have stressed before and I want make it clear that there is no competition with Rishabh.”
Wriddhiman Saha

The 34-year-old has scored 1164 runs in 32 Tests with three hundreds at an average of 30.63, and had built a reputation as a safe if not flambuoyant batsman. But he does understand the vitality of versatility at the elite level.

“Nowadays, it's all about being versatile. Keepers have to bat too,” states Wriddhiman, who has scored a hundred and two half-centuries on his T20 comeback.

Wriddhiman Saha (right) had been India’s first-choice ‘keeper in Tests under Virat Kohli before being sidelined due to injury.
Wriddhiman Saha (right) had been India’s first-choice ‘keeper in Tests under Virat Kohli before being sidelined due to injury.
(Photo: PTI)

Some of Saha’s best performances have come whenever he has opened the innings. The normally introvert keeper said that he wouldn't mind opening the innings if the Sunrisers Hyderabad team management gives him that opportunity.

“Of course, I would love to open in the IPL but the decision is totally up to the team management. I have returned after so many months. So this IPL has an added significance.”
Wriddhiman Saha

One of only two centurions in an IPL final – and the only Indian – Saha explained how facing more deliveries suits his batting style better.

“In the first few matches, I batted down the order. When I came on to the crease, there were a few overs left. So I had no time to settle and had to play big shots. Twice, I was run-out. I am satisfied with my performance but yes it can always be better.”

Saha had hit a blazing 55-ball 115 in the 2014 IPL final, but saw his Kings XI Punjab team go down in a high-scorer against Kolkata Knight Riders.

His bigger battle, however, starts once the IPL is over, with Saha likely to have to fight for the second wicketkeeper’s slot in the Indian team for their inaugural World Test Championship matches in West Indies.

“The team selection is up to the management. The management will decide whatever is best for the team,” he signed off.

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