CHENNAI: There were times during India’s defence of 187 in the second Test in Bengaluru, when Wriddhiman Saha was forced to use his torso and lower limbs instead of gloves to stop the ball. The unpredictable bounce and turn meant getting in line wasn’t enough and one had to be ready for awkward evntualities.
The match produced 45 byes, the most in 11 Tests in India this season. With the ball spinning, popping up, keeping low and hissing in general for most of the first two Tests, men behind the stumps had a tough time. If Indian batsmen struggled because of unfamiliarity with conditions, how different could it have been for wicketkeepers!
But keeping was not all hell out there, if you’re asking Kiran More. “It’s more challenging and thus exciting on turning tracks for wicketkeepers. It gives you a chance to show class and keeps you in the game all the time. It can be boring on flat tracks, where you get one ball every hour,” the former wicketkeeper told Express.
“Turners make a keeper’s job easier in the sense that you’re alert all the time. They test all facets, like technical ability, agility, reading of the game, bowler and pitch. Other than catches or stumpings, there are wide ones to gather. If done cleanly, it lifts the bowler. So a keeper should enjoy these pitches, because of the involvement bit. It makes sure you’re tuned in every moment,” explained More.
Saha’s second innings catch to dismiss Matthew Wade earned praise and made for photographs of the keeper flying with arms stretched in front, but his stumping of Matt Renshaw in the first innings drew greater applause from More.
“It doesn’t get noticed, but a keeper has to create chances, like Saha did on the occasion. You can’t just wait for a catch to come your way. That’s what made MS Dhoni very good. And that’s what keepers can do to play the role of a match-winner.”
Amid forecasts of spin in Ranchi for the third Test, wicketkeepers are likely to come under increased scrutiny. Like good efforts, missed chances too will get noticed and the presence of Parthiv Patel means Saha has to be on his toes.
“Technical ability and sound reading of situations make Saha a good bet. Parthiv too has done well when given a chance,” More, the former selection committee chairman, sounded non-committal on who he prefers. firstname.lastname@example.org