Irani Cup: Wriddhiman Saha excels in his comeback

The diminutive Bengal opener – in contrast to his nature of being a reserved and a man with few words – made a real statement with his unbeaten 123 that first avoided a Rest of India collapse and then brought his team within touching distance of a target of 379.

Saha had much more to prove than just match-fitness when he joined the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup.   -  AP

Ever since Wriddhiman Saha broke down with a hamstring injury during the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam, he was always referred to in the same breath as Parthiv Patel. With his replacement having a decent outing with the gloves in the three Tests, excelling with the bat at various positions and then leading Guajrat to its maiden Ranji Trophy title with two sterling knocks in the final, Saha had much more to prove than just match-fitness when he joined the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup.

And the diminutive Bengal opener – in contrast to his nature of being a reserved and a man with few words – made a real statement with his unbeaten 123 that first avoided a Rest of India collapse and then brought his team within touching distance of a target of 379.

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For most part of his innings, especially playing against the Gujarat pace triumvirate, Saha stood well outside the crease, to negate the swing. And then counter-attacked anything that was in his arc, opening his shoulders at will.

“That was the plan,” said Saha, fresh from a quick ice-bath after the fourth day’s. “Because in the first-innings we had seen that our wickets had been lost with the moving ball. Even I got out that way. I had decided and even told others that I will attack initially. That worked and then the bowlers started bowling shorter, which reduces the chances of being leg before or bowled.”

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Saha spent a better part of the last couple of months for his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He admitted that he kept in touch with his team-mates through “a WhatsApp group, just like everywhere” but focussed more on getting himself back in shape.

Just like Patel who had played down the “Wriddhiman versus Parthiv” tag going into the game, Saha also tried his best to tone that aspect down. “Whenever I play, even during my stint with Bengal, I don’t think about playing for India if I perform well. I keep playing freely. He is also trying his best, I am also trying. Whosoever is selected, will play. I don’t take the pressure of performing well for the sake of playing for India,” he said.

“Even if you ask him, he will tell there’s no competition. Everyone tries his best and whosoever gets the opportunity, plays for the team.”