CHENNAI: After an unproductive opening day when hardly anything came his way, Wriddhiman Saha did all he could in his first innings as wicketkeeper in the beginning of the post-Dhoni era. Two edges were produced on Wednesday — he stooped towards right to glove the first and flew on the left to pluck the second with both hands from an area first slip would have been if he was not positioned wide.
If that shows the man behind the stumps was alert through long periods of play when the ball seldom beat the bat, that there was not a single bye in 152.3 overs suggests he was rather tidy when it did reach the keeper. Now, prolonged and sometimes futile vigil is something Saha learnt early. In his debut first-class match, Bengal got just three wickets in search of seven on the last day against Hyderabad.
VVS Laxman had a rare failure at Eden Gardens in that outing seven winters back and in the first innings, Saha had sprung high on the left to catch a leading edge off his attempted hook. “In that game, he had come across as a technically good wicketkeeper. He understands his game and has improved over the years. After having travelled with the team for the last few years, he has a good chance of becoming a regular choice from this series,” Laxman told TNIE.
After making an impact with five catches and a century in that match, Saha was quick to earn the reputation of a hard worker with a learner’s attitude. This was noticed and even though he played just three Tests before Sydney, the 30-year-old has been travelling with the team for some time. All this while, he did what he could to keep himself fit and ready.
Laxman saw him on tours where he didn’t play much but stood out for his keenness to improve. “His work ethics and commitment towards the game was evident when he travelled. Although he didn’t often get a chance, he would never compromise on his hard work behind batting and keeping. That’s why you see a great deal of determination in the way he goes about things.
“When I first saw him, he wasn’t a stroke-player, but had the temperament and knew how to get runs. Over the years, he has improved as a batsman in different formats,” said Laxman of the player, whose ability to explode caught national attention in last year’s IPL final.
However, the rush of blood in the second innings in Adelaide being the most talked about of his limited ventures with the bat in Test cricket in spite of a few short but dogged efforts, this is a department Saha will be under scrutiny. His ability with the big gloves isn’t questioned at the moment, but what he does in front of the stumps might become important when he faces competition.
“He backs his thought process and that (Adelaide) was an opportunity to become a game-changer. That said, he has the balance to succeed at any level. At one level, all are good. It’s how you handle pressure that matters. Saha is very serious and knows what he is doing. Expect him to learn from that,” said former wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta, whose move to the blacklisted Indian Cricket League had opened the first-class door for Saha.