Wriddhiman Saha’s wicket-keeping skill was never doubted. In fact, he was considered the most technically sound even when Dhoni led in Tests. Knowing his time would come, Saha was ready to wait. But he also utilised that time apprenticing under Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings before scoring a brilliant hundred in the 2014 IPL final. (India vs Australia, day 4 updates)
The Saha you see now is a well-rounded product of all those hours spent in different teams across India and abroad. Finally given the opportunity to keep regularly for India, all Saha needed was the full-fledged backing of his captain. With Virat Kohli giving him that and more at the start of this season, Saha has finally come into his own.
And on Sunday, he played the most important knock of his career in Dhoni’s backyard.
Making them count
This is Saha’s third career century overall this season but let’s not forget the two unbeaten fifties he scored to help India win the Kolkata Test against New Zealand in October. His two other centuries too came in a winning cause – the first against West Indies in St Lucia last August and an unbeaten 106 against Bangladesh in Hyderabad in February. The point is, India get into a strong position when Saha plays his hand.
This innings though was Saha’s best, simply because of the quality of opposition. He agreed. “This is the best among the three (tons) I have. We badly needed a partnership, and even though we started slow, Pujara ended getting his 200 and me the century,” said Saha.
It wasn’t easy for Saha though. Subjected to bouncers and a fair bit of verbal volleys, he had to stay sharp. “I practice batting against short bowling at the nets under the supervision of batting coach or Anil bhai. My strength is leaving, and I try that,” said Saha.
He could have been dismissed in the second over of the day when Pat Cummins proved too quick for him with a delivery that moved in to hit his pad. But he reviewed to get the decision reversed before forcing Australia to waste two of their reviews. Given a life just before lunch when wicketkeeper Matthew Wade failed to hold on to a catch, Saha continued to be either pegged back by the pacers or drawn into a false shot by the spinners.
But to Saha’s credit, he backed himself to bounce back and take the attack to Australia towards the end. Saha attributed that backing himself more now. “When I played sweep shots or stepped out, I used to have doubts earlier. But now the team is very supportive and it’s having a good effect on me.”