CHENNAI: Wriddhiman Saha has been quite the factotum for all teams he’s been involved with.
Sending down medium pacers during tennis-ball days in his hometown of Siliguri to donning big gloves to fill in for a missing wicketkeeper at the behest of his coach; replacing an injured VVS Laxman and soaking in the vitriol doled out by Dale Steyn in Nagpur in 2010 during a dogged two-and-a-half-hour stay in just his second Test innings to scoring the first century in an IPL final in 2014.
For a team in rebuild mode after experiencing more troughs than crests since their first season in IPL, the presence of a man willing to mould himself in any role is what Kings XI Punjab can do with.
“In my nine years in IPL, Kings XI is where I’ve felt most comfortable. I’ve fitted into the batting order for all the teams as per the demands of the situation at that time. It’s the same here,” is how the 31-year-old explains his disposition for padding up whenever his team needs him to. “I’ve opened, come in as a two-down, been part of the lower order. I’ll play in whatever position the team deems good for me, and try to make my experiences count.”
Make it count he did during the 2014 final against Kolkata Knight Riders. Having batted at No 6 in the previous clash against Chennai Super Kings, Saha was sent in two spots up and cannoned his way to a 66-ball 115. That it didn’t help Kings XI cross the finish line is a memory that invokes a pained reminiscence. “I thought I’d done quite well, despite the going getting difficult in the middle at times. I felt we could win it from there. We didn’t, though. I felt really bad that day. I still do,” says India’s Test wicketkeeper, who averages a modest 21.58 with two half-centuries in 11 Tests.
Saha also feels that Sehwag’s presence, albeit as mentor, is pivotal. “He has always been around for us. Apart from contributing as a player, he guided us, told us how to make improvements to our technique, shot selection, running... As mentor, he will continue to do the same, and it is heartening for me and the rest of the team.”