Wriddhiman Saha stole the lead in the race for the wicket-keeper’s spot in the Test team with a perfectly-timed century in the Irani Cup on Monday. With an unbeaten 123, the Rest of India player silenced questions over his batting form while providing another proof of how he can be invaluable in pressure situations.
Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel tried every trick in the book to unsettle his opposite number, but had no answer to Saha’s aggressive approach.
Apart from being crucial to his comeback, the hundred has raised the hopes of Rest of India in their chase of 378.
Thanks to Saha’s unbeaten 203-run partnership for the fifth wicket with captain Cheteshwar Pujara, Rest ended Day Four on 266 for four. With 113 more runs to get on the fifth and final day, the Irani Cup is now Rest’s to lose — a sensational turnaround for the team after being reduced to 63 for four.
It was the Bengal player’s 11th first-class hundred and may turn out to be very important. While Saha was sidelined due to injury, his replacement Parthiv put up some strong performances to stake a claim for a permanent place in the Test side. Saha was left to fight for his comeback and the Irani Cup turned into a selection trial with two of the three national selectors present.
Day Four saw an engrossing battle between the two keeper-batsmen — Saha with the bat in hand and Parthiv with his thinking cap on. Every Gujarat bowler had clear instructions where to attack. The pacers had to go for swing from on or outside off with a six-three field. But, Saha broke the off-side ring by going over the fielders.
“We knew they would pitch it up and look to attack by moving the ball. To counter it, I decided to go over the top. It’s a safe option than trying to hit along the ground. It pushed their line back,” said Saha, who was also standing outside his crease to curb the swing.
His fifty was achieved in 95 balls, hundred in 156 balls and at the end of the day he had hit 16 fours and one six in his unbeaten 123 off 214 balls.