Wriddhiman Saha may not always win all battles, but there is no denying the fact that he is a fighter par excellence.
Making his Test debut back in early 2010, Saha had to spend a major part of his first four-and-a-half years in the Indian team as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s understudy. Thereafter, injuries and a string of low scores reduced him to being a back-up for the much younger Rishabh Pant. Pant of course made use of the chances to establish himself as the first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman of the team.
With Pant rested for the ongoing series, it presented Saha with an opportunity to play a Test after almost a year. But the first innings of the ongoing Kanpur Test again turned out to be a disappointment for him.
In India’s second essay at Green Park on Sunday, the situation was far more precarious for Saha as he came in to bat with the lead being just 152 and only four wickets remaining. On top of everything, Saha had to deal with a stiff neck that had kept him out of ’keeping on Day III.
It was learnt that Saha, having to go out and bat since India were in trouble, took muscle-relaxation tablets and was even attended on a few occasions by physio Nitin Patel during the course of his unbeaten 61.
By no means was it easy for him, but the “ideal team man” that Saha is, something India batting coach Vikram Rathour emphasised, he changed his stance a little bit (facing a little towards mid-on) and did everything necessary to ensure support to the set Shreyas Iyer and keep the scoreboard ticking.
He even came back to keep wickets after India declared, but could carry on only for two overs of New Zealand’s second innings.
How important is this knock of 61 not out for the 37-year-old at this stage of his career? “The major obstacle for Wriddhi is, he hardly gets any chance now because of Pant’s form. The team management too seems to favour Pant more. So whatever opportunities Wriddhi gets, he has to do his best both behind and in front of the stumps.
“But he has been a fighter all his life and we expect him to remain like this,” former India wicketkeeper-batsman and national selector Syed Saba Karim told The Telegraph.
The team management’s view too is quite clear, especially as Rathour minced no words to say Saha would be needed when the “special” Pant is not available.
“As far as Wriddhi is concerned, unfortunately for him, we have an extremely special player in the form of Rishabh, who is the No.1 ’keeper-batsman for us having done so well in the past few years.
“But that’s the role (No.2 wicketkeeper in the squad) Wriddhi has at the moment, as we need him when Rishabh is not available,” Rathour explained.