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The quiet triumph of Wriddhiman Saha

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Wriddhiman_Saha_India_cricketThere is a distinctive calmness and simplicity in Wriddhiman Saha that is extremely attractive. In an era where sledging and being hyper-aggressive has become the job profile of the modern day wicket-keeper, Saha is a breath of fresh air. In fact, if one observes the man, he seems a tad out of place among men who appear more stylish and much more boisterous than him. And yet he has carved his own place into the side, steadily and firmly.

Saha’s glove work – an attribute that is not appreciated enough these days – has been pretty exceptional ever since he has taken up the mantle of the wicket-keeper from Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the longer format of the game. He is smooth, clean and extremely balanced in his approach and never lets his emotions run him dry. His brilliant wicket-keeping throughout the Indian home season and in the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka Test series has won him a lot of plaudits the world over. 

 

Saha’s keeping was especially brilliant in the second Test against Sri Lanka. On a very dry and turning pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Saha was sensational and did not let any ball past him even as it spun around viciously. In that match, he gave away just four byes and his performance was the perfect lesson on how to be a master behind the stumps on a turning track.

 

“Four byes on that sort of pitch speaks of his (Saha's) quality. He is definitely the best 'keeper in this format. How agile he is. He is very safe behind the stumps,” is what Indian captain Virat Kohli said at the press conference regarding the wicket-keeper.

It is heartening that the team management has such immense faith in Saha. Even when he took a break due to injury recently, he was welcomed back into the team on recovery. This faith has come because Saha has shown a lot of character in his short career and has rarely failed in his duties. Keeping on the dry and uneven surfaces of the sub-continent is a tough job, especially when one is standing up to diverse spin bowlers like Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. But Saha has been up to task magnificently and that augurs extremely well for his future in the team.

It will be interesting to observe how long can Saha maintain this simplicity and yet keep shining. For now, though, he is one wicket-keeper who is exciting to watch and has all the ingredients in him to be one of the very best.

 

What makes Saha so good?

 

Wriddhiman Saha might be a traditionalist in his overall demeanor, but he is as swift or sharp as any modern day wicket-keeper. Unlike many Indian wicket-keepers from the past, Saha does not flinch from diving full-length to scoop the ball in his gloves and has super quick reflexes while effecting stumpings or taking close catches.

The hallmark of a good wicket-keeper is how he anticipates the ball and how he makes adjustments according to the pitch conditions. Saha scores on both these counts. He enjoys letting the ball thud into his gloves from both the pacers and spinners and believes that the more balls he gets the more focused he will be. 

His knack of assessing the pitch is very good and the way he moves with the ball, especially when standing up to the spinners, is terrific to watch. In fact, some of the catches he has taken off close nicks have been pretty outstanding. 

 

Saha’s quick hand-eye co-ordination is also one trait that makes him such a fabulous wicket-keeper today – a quality he developed while training in the Agragami football club during his formative years in Silliguri

 

There have been occasions when Saha has gotten up too early with the ball or has been blinded by the batsman. It is on those instances where his hand-eye co-ordination has bailed him out as he just sticks his gloves out and pouches the ball.

Moreover, as a wicket-keeper, he also provides useful inputs to the captain and the bowler continuously. On DRS decisions, especially, Saha’s views are crucial and have helped the captain on a number of occasions.

These attributes surely make Wriddhiman Saha the purest Test wicket-keeper out there today. And while his statistics – 56 catches and 10 stumpings in 28 Tests – might not be mind-boggling, he is sure to leave a significant mark by the time is done.

 

Saha’s role is essential for Team India’s progress

 

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni had bid adieu to the longer format back in 2014, it felt like Team India would be left with a gaping hole which would take a long time to fill. That, however, has not happened. Wriddhiman Saha has fit into the role so perfectly that one can’t imagine Team India without him now.

 

More than the talent he has, Saha is mature, level-headed, simple, and, above all, extremely humble. These are traits that need to be cherished and the man’s value needs to be understood.

 

Lest one forget, he is also a very handy batsman lower down the order and has played many significant knocks for the team in adverse situations. In his short career, he has already managed 3 hundreds and 5 fifties and is looking better with every game.

With his polished wicket-keeping and his useful batting down the order, Wriddhiman Saha’s role is one of the most pivotal ones in the Test team. It is hence essential for Team India’s sake that he keeps progressing the way he is. The future for both can only brighten that way.

 

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