Central Zone v East Zone, Duleep Trophy final, Indore, 2nd day February 13, 2012

Recognise the batsman in Wriddhiman Saha

There is a perception that Wriddhiman Saha is an inferior batsman to some of the other wicketkeepers competing for national selection. It is time that perception changed
11

Wriddhiman Saha walked back a satisfied but tired man, having made 170 in more than six hours in East Zone's first innings. Before that, he had kept wicket safely and unobtrusively for Central Zone's first innings, which had lasted for barely four hours. The handful of spectators at the Holkar Stadium, who had implored Saha to raise his bat in their direction when he reached his century, called out to him again. Saha went to them and patiently signed autographs and posed for photographs with a few fans. There was something in his demeanour that led a veteran journalist to remark that in all his decades of covering cricket he had never seen a more humble player.

Saha's humility does not seem to be put on. It is part of his nature. He is rated by many as the finest wicketkeeper in the country at the moment. He goes about his job with the look of an accountant passing journal entries. Without a needless show of emotion. He is known to be a batsman capable of fighting in adversity, a quality he displayed during the first innings of the recent Adelaide Test. He did it with the look of a man who knew he was in for a tough examination but was going to face it without fretting.

Saha is not known - or at least he wasn't until today - to be an aggressive batsman with a range of strokes. He showed he was, with the look of a man who saw aggression as part of his job description for the day, and went to carry out his duties. With humility.

Saha's batting looks as safe as his keeping. That he is technically sound was demonstrated in Australia. Today, he hammered 26 boundaries against a decent attack without a trace of ostentation. His drives were effective but not fierce. His pulls were powerful but not violent. His clips were executed with balance but without flourish. Even when he lofted the fast bowlers a couple of times just over mid-off, the strokes were not mis-timed. And all were safe.

After stumps, Saha spoke about his innings. "The ball was moving around in the morning," he said. "We knew the first session would be crucial. We decided to target only the loose deliveries and keep out the good ones.

"The wicket eased out after lunch, and we came out with a positive mindset to look for runs. Their spinners were not getting much help from the pitch."

This 170 came after Saha made 124 in the semi-final against North Zone in Delhi the previous week. Both centuries were scored after East Zone had lost three wickets for not much in the first innings.

Saha is an excellent keeper and a capable batsman, but he lacks glamour. There have been murmurs about his perceived inferior batting ability from the moment he was chosen as the reserve Test wicketkeeper to MS Dhoni. Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel, the others in contention, are flashier than Saha.

The perception seems to be just that though, a perception. A look at the first-class batting averages reveals that Saha averages more than Karthik and Parthiv, and Dhoni as well.

Saha said something today that revealed much about his merits as a batsman. "I go for my strokes only when I am well set, and depending on the match situation," he said. It is a trait the other three cannot be said to possess in the longest format, at least not in the same measure as Saha does.

After consecutive Duleep Trophy hundreds, it is time for the perception to change, and for Saha to be given some respect for his batting ability.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 15, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    Saha can be as aggressive as any other hard hitting batsman. He changes his style so smoothly among the different formats of the game. Awesome wicket keeping skills and an excellent fielder in the deep. He has consistently performed in the domestic matches for Bengal/East zone along with the likes of Manoj Tiwary. Determination and fitness are his strong points. Please draw him to the team in any format and he should be successful provided the management gives more chances. Play him as a regular batsman if Dhoni thinks he can control the game better from behind the stumps. Chennai, please release Saha for KKR and buy back Balaji.

  • on February 14, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Dhoni Hatao..Team Bachao... Saha Is A Better Keeper Than Dhoni, And Got More Runs [ And Average Too] Than Dhoni... Its Dhoni Who Said [ To Remove Ganguly] That " It Doesnt Matter How Big Ur Name Is, U need To Perform"... I Have A Polite Question To BCCI Selectors....When Did Dhoni Scored 20+ In A Test Match For The Last Time? It Can Well be A Sports Quiz, Which Probably Dhoni Wont be Able To Answer.... Gambhir is the Perfect Choice As A Skipper...And Saha As A Keeper

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • tamizan on February 14, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    Indian team for future:- 1. Gautam Gambhir (Leftie Delhi Opener) 2. Abhinav Mukund (Leftie Tamil Opener) 3. Virat Kohli (Promising Delhi Star) 4. Manoj Tiwari (Bangali Batsman) 5. Sachin Tendulkar (Indian Star Batsman from Mumbai) 6. Virender Sehwag (Captain from Delhi) 7. Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket Keeper from Bengal) 8. Ravichandran Ashwin (Tamil All-rounder) 9. Harbhajan Singh (Punjabi Allrounder) 10. Zaheer Khan (Best Fast Bowler Ever - Gujarat) 11. Ashok Dinda (Best Fast Bowler for the moment in India)

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • on February 14, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    Hi Thomas, can't agree more with you, let the Test core team in sub continent be Rehane Gambhir, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja, Raina, Pujara, Yadav, Zak, Dinda, W P Saha, Ashwin, Parthiv, Aaron, Irfan Tiwari

    yes opener is a problem here... Rehane is doubtful in England and Australia/NZ/WI/SA

  • usernames on February 14, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I've always said this: Saha, if nothing else, is a better batsman in challenging condition than any other wk/bt in India. He can be given the role of the lead wk in tests, with Dhoni being there in the other two formats. It will take some time for him to gain confidence at the international level, and score runs for India, however, he, with the bat, can be pretty useful in conditions like SA, Aus, etc. He is a very good wk too, as we saw in Australia.

    Even if they don't make drastic changes, a few changes to the test team are a must. There needs to be Rahane, Rohit & Pujara in the squad in the series against NZ. Then, they need to start finding replacement for Zaheer, too (not replace him right away, of course!).

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    I complete agree with Thomas.. But may be instead of Kohli we can start with gambhir and Kohli his deputy...

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    How long a wicketkeeper batsman like Saha warming sidebench in test cricket? Dhoni as a wicketkeeper batsman is good enough in Indian pitches only. Time has come for selectors to drop Dhoni from test team and make way for Saha. His resolute defence against furious Dale steyn and mighty australian fast bowlers have concreted his credentials as a batsman and his wicketkeeping doesn't need any more evaluation, arguably the best wicket keeper available in Indian cricket. Hope he will not become another Amol Mazumdar or Badrinath of Indian cricket, the sad sons.

  • Sumeet.Gupta on February 14, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    I've always backed the selectors decision to make Saha the test backup 'keeper. And he's proving me correct. If i were to choose a 'keeper to 'keep wickets for my life, Karthik and Patel would be the last on my list. They have been given ample chances and they've fluffed them all. I still remember the 2008 (or was is 2009) series in SL, where Dhoni excused himself. Karthik kept for first 2 matches and Patel for the 3rd and both were horrible. In fact, Dhoni is a better keeper than these 2. Unless and until they've improved tremendously, i don't think they can think of returning to Indian team in near future, their "supposedly" superior batting notwithstanding

  • on February 15, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    Saha can be as aggressive as any other hard hitting batsman. He changes his style so smoothly among the different formats of the game. Awesome wicket keeping skills and an excellent fielder in the deep. He has consistently performed in the domestic matches for Bengal/East zone along with the likes of Manoj Tiwary. Determination and fitness are his strong points. Please draw him to the team in any format and he should be successful provided the management gives more chances. Play him as a regular batsman if Dhoni thinks he can control the game better from behind the stumps. Chennai, please release Saha for KKR and buy back Balaji.

  • on February 14, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Dhoni Hatao..Team Bachao... Saha Is A Better Keeper Than Dhoni, And Got More Runs [ And Average Too] Than Dhoni... Its Dhoni Who Said [ To Remove Ganguly] That " It Doesnt Matter How Big Ur Name Is, U need To Perform"... I Have A Polite Question To BCCI Selectors....When Did Dhoni Scored 20+ In A Test Match For The Last Time? It Can Well be A Sports Quiz, Which Probably Dhoni Wont be Able To Answer.... Gambhir is the Perfect Choice As A Skipper...And Saha As A Keeper

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • tamizan on February 14, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    Indian team for future:- 1. Gautam Gambhir (Leftie Delhi Opener) 2. Abhinav Mukund (Leftie Tamil Opener) 3. Virat Kohli (Promising Delhi Star) 4. Manoj Tiwari (Bangali Batsman) 5. Sachin Tendulkar (Indian Star Batsman from Mumbai) 6. Virender Sehwag (Captain from Delhi) 7. Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket Keeper from Bengal) 8. Ravichandran Ashwin (Tamil All-rounder) 9. Harbhajan Singh (Punjabi Allrounder) 10. Zaheer Khan (Best Fast Bowler Ever - Gujarat) 11. Ashok Dinda (Best Fast Bowler for the moment in India)

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • on February 14, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    Hi Thomas, can't agree more with you, let the Test core team in sub continent be Rehane Gambhir, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja, Raina, Pujara, Yadav, Zak, Dinda, W P Saha, Ashwin, Parthiv, Aaron, Irfan Tiwari

    yes opener is a problem here... Rehane is doubtful in England and Australia/NZ/WI/SA

  • usernames on February 14, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I've always said this: Saha, if nothing else, is a better batsman in challenging condition than any other wk/bt in India. He can be given the role of the lead wk in tests, with Dhoni being there in the other two formats. It will take some time for him to gain confidence at the international level, and score runs for India, however, he, with the bat, can be pretty useful in conditions like SA, Aus, etc. He is a very good wk too, as we saw in Australia.

    Even if they don't make drastic changes, a few changes to the test team are a must. There needs to be Rahane, Rohit & Pujara in the squad in the series against NZ. Then, they need to start finding replacement for Zaheer, too (not replace him right away, of course!).

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    I complete agree with Thomas.. But may be instead of Kohli we can start with gambhir and Kohli his deputy...

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    How long a wicketkeeper batsman like Saha warming sidebench in test cricket? Dhoni as a wicketkeeper batsman is good enough in Indian pitches only. Time has come for selectors to drop Dhoni from test team and make way for Saha. His resolute defence against furious Dale steyn and mighty australian fast bowlers have concreted his credentials as a batsman and his wicketkeeping doesn't need any more evaluation, arguably the best wicket keeper available in Indian cricket. Hope he will not become another Amol Mazumdar or Badrinath of Indian cricket, the sad sons.

  • Sumeet.Gupta on February 14, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    I've always backed the selectors decision to make Saha the test backup 'keeper. And he's proving me correct. If i were to choose a 'keeper to 'keep wickets for my life, Karthik and Patel would be the last on my list. They have been given ample chances and they've fluffed them all. I still remember the 2008 (or was is 2009) series in SL, where Dhoni excused himself. Karthik kept for first 2 matches and Patel for the 3rd and both were horrible. In fact, Dhoni is a better keeper than these 2. Unless and until they've improved tremendously, i don't think they can think of returning to Indian team in near future, their "supposedly" superior batting notwithstanding

  • on February 13, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    Maybe a new test side can have Saha as the keeper with a new captain and whole lot of oldies gone....why not take a gamble appoint say a Kohli as captain and drop the entire bunch of them including Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid,laxman and Dhonie from test team...while Dhoni can captain the other two formats....

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on February 13, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    Maybe a new test side can have Saha as the keeper with a new captain and whole lot of oldies gone....why not take a gamble appoint say a Kohli as captain and drop the entire bunch of them including Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid,laxman and Dhonie from test team...while Dhoni can captain the other two formats....

  • Sumeet.Gupta on February 14, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    I've always backed the selectors decision to make Saha the test backup 'keeper. And he's proving me correct. If i were to choose a 'keeper to 'keep wickets for my life, Karthik and Patel would be the last on my list. They have been given ample chances and they've fluffed them all. I still remember the 2008 (or was is 2009) series in SL, where Dhoni excused himself. Karthik kept for first 2 matches and Patel for the 3rd and both were horrible. In fact, Dhoni is a better keeper than these 2. Unless and until they've improved tremendously, i don't think they can think of returning to Indian team in near future, their "supposedly" superior batting notwithstanding

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    How long a wicketkeeper batsman like Saha warming sidebench in test cricket? Dhoni as a wicketkeeper batsman is good enough in Indian pitches only. Time has come for selectors to drop Dhoni from test team and make way for Saha. His resolute defence against furious Dale steyn and mighty australian fast bowlers have concreted his credentials as a batsman and his wicketkeeping doesn't need any more evaluation, arguably the best wicket keeper available in Indian cricket. Hope he will not become another Amol Mazumdar or Badrinath of Indian cricket, the sad sons.

  • on February 14, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    I complete agree with Thomas.. But may be instead of Kohli we can start with gambhir and Kohli his deputy...

  • usernames on February 14, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I've always said this: Saha, if nothing else, is a better batsman in challenging condition than any other wk/bt in India. He can be given the role of the lead wk in tests, with Dhoni being there in the other two formats. It will take some time for him to gain confidence at the international level, and score runs for India, however, he, with the bat, can be pretty useful in conditions like SA, Aus, etc. He is a very good wk too, as we saw in Australia.

    Even if they don't make drastic changes, a few changes to the test team are a must. There needs to be Rahane, Rohit & Pujara in the squad in the series against NZ. Then, they need to start finding replacement for Zaheer, too (not replace him right away, of course!).

  • on February 14, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    Hi Thomas, can't agree more with you, let the Test core team in sub continent be Rehane Gambhir, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja, Raina, Pujara, Yadav, Zak, Dinda, W P Saha, Ashwin, Parthiv, Aaron, Irfan Tiwari

    yes opener is a problem here... Rehane is doubtful in England and Australia/NZ/WI/SA

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • tamizan on February 14, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    Indian team for future:- 1. Gautam Gambhir (Leftie Delhi Opener) 2. Abhinav Mukund (Leftie Tamil Opener) 3. Virat Kohli (Promising Delhi Star) 4. Manoj Tiwari (Bangali Batsman) 5. Sachin Tendulkar (Indian Star Batsman from Mumbai) 6. Virender Sehwag (Captain from Delhi) 7. Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket Keeper from Bengal) 8. Ravichandran Ashwin (Tamil All-rounder) 9. Harbhajan Singh (Punjabi Allrounder) 10. Zaheer Khan (Best Fast Bowler Ever - Gujarat) 11. Ashok Dinda (Best Fast Bowler for the moment in India)

  • analyseabhishek on February 14, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    It is strange that Saha carried the impression of not being aggressive enough. I remember him, along with Brad Hodge (or David Hussey) nearly carrying the day for KKR in IPL 2008, against KXIP may be. At Adelaide, he looked well sorted out and assured- unlike many accomplished batsmen in the side. He might have benefited from a tiring attack but there was no mistaking the intent and his contribution towards a rare century partnership for India

  • on February 14, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Dhoni Hatao..Team Bachao... Saha Is A Better Keeper Than Dhoni, And Got More Runs [ And Average Too] Than Dhoni... Its Dhoni Who Said [ To Remove Ganguly] That " It Doesnt Matter How Big Ur Name Is, U need To Perform"... I Have A Polite Question To BCCI Selectors....When Did Dhoni Scored 20+ In A Test Match For The Last Time? It Can Well be A Sports Quiz, Which Probably Dhoni Wont be Able To Answer.... Gambhir is the Perfect Choice As A Skipper...And Saha As A Keeper