Surpassing MS Dhoni’s record as wicketkeeper can be a good yardstick for progress. Wriddhiman Saha ticked that box in January when he affected 10 dismissals in the Cape Town Test against South Africa.
Those 10 catches saw the 33-year-old Saha better Dhoni’s Indian record of nine dismissals in the Melbourne Test in 2014-15 series. It also highlighted Saha’s constant evolution as a player.
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Saha’s solid start to the year, however, came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a hamstring injury. He has recovered and is now gearing up for 2018 Indian Premier League with his new team Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The wicketkeeper says adjusting to a new format or team is not an issue any more after his past one year’s experience with the national team.
“The more matches I play, the more confident I get. Now I am much more mature about handling different type of situations and executing the role given to me by my team. Initially, there were times when I would panic in certain situations, but after playing for a long time with the national team that has gone away,” Saha said in an interview.
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“When a domestic player gets into the big stage, the national team, a fair amount of run added with the support of his teammates, management helps a lot.”
Eye on intensity
Saha, who is currently playing in local league matches in Kolkata, added that he would be focusing on increasing his intensity as he changes gears from Test cricket to T20 format.
“Everyone in the current Indian team is aware that if he is fit, the chances of doing well on field is greater. And it helps in increasing the intensity too, which is for shorter format like T20. If you don’t keep yourself fit, then you may have problems after the initial two to four matches. And the team will suffer,” he said.
The Bengal player who has 32 Test caps and nine ODI caps added that fitness also helps in improving focus, which is all the more crucial for a wicketkeeper in a T20 game.
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“In a T20 match, a wicketkeeper hardly gets three to four chances to dismiss a batsman. It’s my prerogative to make those chances count. Sometimes it may decide the course of a match and a wicketkeeper has to take those,” he said.
Aim for SRH
Saha was picked for Rs five crore by Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have a star-studded batting line-up including David Warner, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey among others. Saha admits that his role as a wicketkeeper will be more crucial for his team than as a batsman.
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“SRH is a balanced team. My role will be as a wicketkeeper first and then as a batsman. I will be the main keeper of the team and I would also like to contribute in different situations with the bat,” he said. “I have played in three different teams earlier (Chennai Super Kings, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders) and everywhere I have I tried to observe the way foreign players prepare for the match and learn from them.”