Stump vision: Wriddhiman Saha keeps critics quiet in own silent way
PUNE: Wriddhiman Saha is the odd man out in a squad of superstars. When Rishabh Pant made runs, one wondered if it was the end of his international career. And now, he is here. He is also the odd wicketkeeper out there, primarily there for his glovework. Few teams give it importance these days. But after MS Dhoni quit Tests, India have invested in Saha, rather than look for runs.
Since his comeback in 2015, Saha has left his imprint all over. He has chipped in with runs and done his bit behind the stumps. He isn’t the sort who effects back-flicks. Nor is he loud behind the wicket. But with his calming presence, he gives the slip cordon confidence. His reach makes the catcher stand a yard or two further.
“A lot of people have spoken about Saha and it’s a no-brainer that he’s one of the best. I’ve hardly seen him miss anything from the rough. Just indicates what good set of hands he has. He also has great composure. You can’t rule him out with the bat either. He has made handy contributions,” complimented Ravichandran Ashwin.
On Friday, as Temba Bavuma flicked Ishant Sharma, Saha dived to grab it with his left hand, only for replays to show that the ball had hit the ground. On Saturday, Theunis de Bruyn attempted a cover drive, only for the ball to fly towards first slip, where Rohit Sharma was getting ready. Saha flew full length to his right to catch it with both hands.
Unlike other keepers, he doesn’t squat fully for pacers. He crouches like the slip fielders, hands on knees. Head and body still. Legs start moving once the ball leaves the hand. Then a slight pause when it reaches the batsman. Depending on which way it moves, a couple of steps. On days like these with no noise from the stands, one could hear how smoothly the ball settled in his gloves.
“A lot of keepers work on aspects like hand-eye coordination. But it comes naturally to him. Things like positioning, feet movement, getting up to spinners are so perfect. Since he comes from a hill station, he is very agile and strong. For wicketkeepers, fitness is the key and Saha has always prioritised it,” said Deep Dasgupta, who Saha succeeded in the Bengal Ranji Trophy team.