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Wriddhiman Saha (Picture Credit: BCCI/IPL)
Wriddhiman Saha (Picture Credit: BCCI/IPL)

Rishabh Pant Has Done Well And Should Be India’s First-Choice Keeper, Says Wriddhiman Saha

Wriddhiman Saha was India’s best Test wicketkeeper and hence would be their first-choice on raging turners at home. 23-year-old Rishabh Pant used to keep in overseas conditions, where the ball doesn’t move much off the pitch.

In addition to his exquisite glovework, Wriddhiman Saha had vast experience. So, Indian management opted to field him in Adelaide as the Bengal boy played in foreign conditions for the first time in almost three years. India was bundled out for 36 in the second innings and eventually lost by eight wickets. Wriddhiman Saha scored 13 runs across both innings, but the manner in which he seemed to gift his wicket hurt.

India Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (Photo | PTI)
India Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (Photo | PTI)

Wriddhiman Saha: Rishabh Pant Done Well And Should Be India’s First Choice Keeper In 6 Tests In England Including WTC Final

Wriddhiman Saha was then dropped. After seven Tests and two landmark series wins against Australia and England, the Adelaide debacle back in December remains his last outing for India. Rishabh Pant has earned widespread accolades for leaving an indelible mark on home conditions as well, with both the bat and the gloves.

Virat Kohli’s men will now travel to the UK for the WTC final against New Zealand and a five-Test series against England. Rishabh Pant, quite naturally, is touted to keep wickets unless some extraordinary circumstances arise. Wriddhiman Saha has accepted it. In fact, the 36-year-old was magnanimous enough to concede that his almost-certain successor merits the place.

“Rishabh Pant played the last few matches of the World Test Championship, he’s done well and he should be our first-choice keeper inEngland. I would just wait, and if any opportunity arises, I will give my best. I will keep practising for that one chance,” Wriddhiman Saha said in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.

Wriddhiman Saha was down with COVID-19 for more than a fortnight, thus casting doubts on his UK sojourn. However, he has recovered and is back with his family, all set to enter the pre-departure bio-bubble in Mumbai next week. BCCI on Thursday (May 20) announced Andhra wicketkeeper-batsman KS Bharat as the 25th member – supposedly a cover for Wriddhiman Saha.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Wriddhiman Saha, though, has attributed the late addition to the cushion of having three keeper-batsmen in the ranks, particularly in times hostile enough.

“I didn’t have COVID-19 during the last series but KS Bharat was still with the team. Now that I contracted the infection, people are labelling him as my ‘cover’. But I feel they have picked a third keeper bearing in mind the risk outside.” Wriddhiman Saha explained.

Wriddhiman Saha’s recent exploits have been nothing to write home about or maybe draw a conclusion regarding his current fitness level. However, he cleared the air and emphatically said he has been picked for a reason.

“If the team management didn’t have faith in me, then they wouldn’t have selected me only. But that I am on that plane is because they have some faith,” Wriddhiman Saha exclaimed.

Wriddhiman Saha would have to leave his wife and two daughters behind. He has also made peace with the fact that sport cannot take place in this pandemic-strewn world without quarantine periods. Wriddhiman Saha divides his time in quarantine between catching up on web series and working on his fitness.

Wriddhiman Saha Was Among 6 Cricketers Who Contracted Covid-19 Leading To IPL’s Indefinite Postponement

But in all fairness, the forthcoming self-isolation days won’t hold any comparison to the 15 days of uncertainty and trauma he went through at a Delhi hotel earlier this month. Wriddhiman Saha was among the six positive COVID-19 cases that led to the indefinite suspension of the 14th edition of IPL 2021 on May 4. For the record, numerous ground staff was also reported to have been infected.

KKR bowlers Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive on the morning of May 3, while CSK support staff duo of Michael Hussey and Lakshmipathy Balaji was confirmed to have contracted the deadly virus that evening. DC spinner Amit Mishra and SRH’s Wriddhiman Saha’s reports came out the next morning.

But Wriddhiman Saha started feeling the tremors on May 1 and wasn’t taken to the ground for the Rajasthan Royals (RR) match on May 2 afternoon. The SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) wicketkeeper-batsman confirmed the developments while divulging further details.

“We had one practice session before playing CSK on April 28. Then before the Rajasthan game on May 2, we had two training sessions. I attended both practices and on the night of the RR game, I suddenly started feeling cold for about 20-25 minutes.

“The Rajasthan match was over by then and I didn’t travel to the ground. It was on the third day on May 3 that I reported positive,” Wriddhiman Saha, who has scored 1,987 runs at a strike rate of 131.24 in 126 IPL games, elaborated.

But the idea that a microscopic element could derail the extravagant league didn’t even cross the virus-infected players’ minds.

“Before me, two players each from KKR and CSK, and Amit Mishra had tested positive. But none of us anticipated the postponement of IPL 2021.” Wriddhiman Saha stated.

Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman said his side needs characters like Wriddhiman Saha, who is making a comeback following an injury lay-off. - FILE PHOTO/ AKHILESH KUMAR
Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman said his side needs characters like Wriddhiman Saha, who is making a comeback following an injury lay-off. – FILE PHOTO/ AKHILESH KUMAR

There could have been possible breaches of the KKR and DC bio-bubbles. Varun Chakravarthy visited a hospital for a shoulder scan before having a meal with Sandeep Warrier, who then interacted with Amit Mishra during a training session involving players from both sides.

Confirming none of the SRH players breached the bio-secure protocols, Wriddhiman Saha speculated he caught the virus from a third-party source. He also opened up on the different situations in the UAE, which seamlessly hosted IPL 2020 in September-November last year across three venues.

“We used the airport, landed in Delhi and even played the CSK game there. So if I had contracted the virus at the airport, the symptoms could’ve shown up before or during the CSK game itself. I had interacted with a few CSK guys during practice, so I feel that could have been the source.”

“When we played in the UAE last year, there used to be no one around us even during practice sessions. But here, we are sharing the space with groundsmen, people outside the ground are also peeping through the gates or over the wall.” Wriddhiman Saha told Sportskeeda.

Should the remaining 31 matches of IPL 2021 not take place, the BCCI will lose revenue worth almost INR 2,500 crore. Wriddhiman Saha doesn’t see the season resuming, especially without the big names.

“Majority of the foreigners are from Australia, England and the West Indies. So I personally feel the resumption of the league this year is doubtful. Without the overseas players, IPL will just be a enhanced version of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy,” Wriddhiman Saha opined.

BCCI is scampering to find a small window to stage the second half of IPL 2021 before the T20 World Cup in October-November. While playing in England after the Test series remains the most viable option, sources tracking developments are keeping a close eye on the UAE too.

SRH is at the bottom of the points table with one win from seven games played. They also were criticized for frequent chopping and changing – they made 10 changes to their line-up across four matches after losing their opening game to KKR by 10 runs.

Wriddhiman Saha played the first two encounters, which eventually turned out to be the only two he would play in the curtailed tournament.

“Any player can flop in a couple of matches. But if the line-up is being continuously changed, no team would be able to settle down. I would suggest, not only for SRH, but any side to pen down their best XI and play that line-up for four-five matches straight. But then, it was the management’s decision, we can’t do much about it.” Wriddhiman Saha reasoned.

The think tank comprising of Trevor Bayliss, Tom Moody, and VVS Laxman made the headlines when they relieved talisman David Warner of captaincy duties, all of a sudden, after the sixth match. David Warner expressed disapproval over dropping Manish Pandey after the first three games. Wriddhiman Saha, though, didn’t delve deeper into the speculation.

“It is completely up to the team management – a player can warm the bench after performing well and can even play all the games despite not performing at all.” Wriddhiman Saha said.

Wriddhiman Saha has scored 8 runs off 15 deliveries so far in IPL 2021. He smashed 184 runs off just 122 balls across the final three league games of IPL 2020, before being ruled out with a hamstring tear ahead of the playoffs. Then came the Adelaide humiliation. He was only given two chances as an opener for SRH before a virus confined him to a room for more than two weeks.

When asked about the misfortune he has experienced late, Wriddhiman Saha said he tries not to get affected by his performances on the field. He added that he never compromises on practice and always strives for improvement.

“I try to be the same irrespective of the situation. Practice remains the same, irrespective of whether I am playing or not.” Wriddhiman Saha added in this regard.

He has spoken fondly of his time with CSK when he got some invaluable advice from the great MS Dhoni.

“Virat is in my team, so yeah I discuss cricket with him at times.” Wriddhiman Saha, who has amassed 1,251 runs from 38 Tests, mentioned.

Making India’s limited-overs sides now look like a distant dream for Wriddhiman Saha who is championing a bigger and noble cause. He once again insisted that postponing IPL 2021 was the correct decision.

“Before that, I want India and the rest of the world to recover from this pandemic. After that, if any opportunity comes, I would definitely want to play but before that I pray for the well-being of everybody,” he concluded.

Wriddhiman Saha might have his eye on the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in September, and if time permits the Ranji Trophy, which is slated to begin in December.