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Saha: Not that I’m only good for 5-day matches

- ‘Maintaining a level of consistency has been my primary aim’
Wriddhiman Saha

New Delhi: Bengal wicket-keeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha has proved to be the backbone of his team’s batting in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season. In the six matches Bengal have played so far, Saha displayed superb consistency to score half-centuries in all the encounters.

On Saturday, Saha was once again instrumental behind Bengal’s three-wicket win over Punjab in the semi-final at the Palam ground. He not only played a patient knock of 53 to steady the Bengal innings but also batted till the end to see his team through to the final.

Asked whether he was now ready to play in the one-dayers after being dubbed as a “Test specialist”, Saha said: “I have no idea what people have to say about me. It is not that I am only good for five-day matches.

“I take every match as a new assignment and try to do my best. All I know is that I have a job at hand and I try to perform that to the best of my ability.”

India coach Duncan Fletcher, according to Saha, played a role in making him a consistent batsman. “Maintaining a level of consistency has been my primary aim and I am just trying to do that.

“I am grateful to Fletcher for his inputs which helped me to become a better batsman. He told me that planning the innings was far more important than at what pace you score your runs. It is the key to become a consistent batsman.”

This is not the first time that Saha has spoken about Fletcher’s contribution in his becoming a better player.

Soon after returning from the Australia tour, Saha said: “He (Fletcher) asked me to play freely. He told me to keep everything simple, to hit the balls which are in the zone.

“We also discussed few technical issues regarding my ’keeping... I can say that the stint Down Under really helped me to analyse my game.”

Saha’s consistency since returning from the tour has proved that he has changed his approach towards batting.

Saha admitted that batting at the Palam was not an easy job. “It was definitely one of my better innings since it was played under pressure. Playing shots on this track was never easy, a lot of deliveries from the Punjab left-arm spinners were skidding a lot,” he said.

Chasing 206, Bengal looked solid at 86 for two, but two Rajwinder Singh strikes they were reduced to 98 for 4. It soon became 111 for 5 when Bipul Sharma dismissed Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

Saha then forged a 41-run stand with Debabrata Das to swing it back Bengal’s way but Punjab kept fighting and took two more wickets before Saha was joined by Shami Ahmed, who smashed 22 off seven balls to dent Punjab’s hopes.

Bengal coach W.V. Raman said that the victory proved his team were good in the 50-over format.

“Perhaps, we could have had bigger partnerships,” Raman said. “But again, on this kind of wicket it is difficult to get set. Batting was easier in the first half of the match.”

Raman believes that stint with Chennai Super Kings has helped the wicketkeeper-batsman adapt to pressure situations better and Wriddhiman agreed.

”I always feel that more I bat in pressure situations, the better player I will become. It wasn’t easy to bat today... This was not a track where one could just go out and play his shots. One needed to concentrate on singles and twos...”

Meanwhile, Bengal opening batsman Jayojit Basu lost his father on Saturday. Jayojit left for Calcutta immediately after the semi-final.

“Basu’s father was ailing for a long time and died today (Saturday),” said Bengal manager Samir Dasgupta. “We broke the news to him at the end of the match. He left for Calcutta immediately.”

The team manager said that the Bhowanipore cricketer, who was inducted into the playing XI in the semi-final in place of Manoj Tiwary, is expected to return before Tuesday’s final.