India news September 3, 2015

Confident Saha targets SA series return

ESPNcricinfo staff

'The twin half-centuries acted as confidence boosters. I am happy that I have played my little part in the team's 2-1 series victory' - Wriddhiman Saha © AFP

Wriddhiman Saha, the India wicketkeeper, is confident of regaining fitness ahead of the four-match Test series against South Africa due to begin in November. He had suffered a hamstring injury while on tour in Sri Lanka and is currently in Kolkata working on his rehabilitation.

"South Africa Tests are still two months away. I am confident that I will get fit much before that. Hopefully, I will be playing Ranji Trophy for Bengal next month to get match fit," he told PTI

India had called up Naman Ojha as a replacement for the final Test in Colombo, who in turn had looked composed in the face of a Test debut and against a probing Sri Lankan attack. But he could not convert his starts into substantial scores.

Saha, meanwhile, had struck a couple of fifties before being sidelined and is rated as the best gloveman in India. His captain Virat Kohli had gone on record saying Saha should be India's wicketkeeper in Tests for the next five years.

The pressure Saha faces, though, is from a perception that he might not score quick runs, which is often the mandate of a batsman coming in at Nos. 6 and 7, and which a player like Ojha is been known for.

"I don't play cricket thinking about others' performance," Saha said. "I got injured and Naman was assigned a duty. He did his job to the best of his abilities and India have won the match. Now who will play is up to the selectors. My job is to keep improving and I will strive in doing that."

He does not need to look far for support. Saha recalled how his team-mates had helped him after a couple of failures in the practice match ahead of the Sri Lanka Tests. "When I had low scores (3 and 1) in the warm-up game, Ajinkya [Rahane] came up and told me, 'Don't worry. You will score in Tests where it matters'. That's what has been the hallmark. Everyone is enjoying each other's success."

Saha had some of his own - scoring his maiden Test half-century in difficult conditions in Galle, which he rated as a better knock than the next fifty he hit, batting through injury and helping set up India's declaration at the P Sara Oval.

"I would rate the Galle innings higher as there was both turn and bounce on that track. Also I had not got a fifty in Tests till then. It was a challenge that I enjoyed. Also I batted with the tail (in both Tests), which demands taking greater responsibility. (Dhammika) Prasad and (Rangana) Herath are class bowlers and doing well against them increases self-belief.

"Obviously, the twin half-centuries acted as confidence boosters. I am happy that I have played my little part in the team's 2-1 series victory. For me, more than the volume of runs, it is important that in what situation I have scored those runs. When I look back, I feel a bit of satisfaction that I could deliver what Virat (Kohli) wanted from me."