Fly like superman, grab 'em like spiderman: Saha at his best

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha on Sunday justified his selection with an impressive display in India's emphatic win over South Africa in the Pune Test.

Wridhhiman Saha juggles before completing a diving catch to remove South African skipper Faf du Plessis.   -  PTI

India skipper Virat Kohli labelled Wriddhiman Saha as the 'best wicketkeeper in the world' before the start of the Test series against South Africa at the beginning of this month.

It was high praise considering Saha hadn't played international cricket since January last year and had undergone surgery to his shoulder.

Although he was a bit rusty in his comeback Test in Visakhapatnam, dropping Quinton de Kock and conceding 12 byes, he settled into his role, adeptly keeping to two of the best off-spinners in the world in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in home conditions.

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On Sunday in Pune, Saha was in full flight.

He took blinders, diving to the leg side against pacers before pulling off reflex catches to the bowling of the spinners.

Umesh Yadav, who was the benefactor of Saha's brilliance down the leg to scalp Theunis de Bruyn and Vernon Philander, said, "I need to give him (Wriddhiman) a treat because I think those two wickets are Wriddhi bhai's only. When you put the ball outside leg stump you think it'll be a boundary, but if there is a little bit chance to convert a catch, we know he will take it."

"I need to give him (Wriddhiman) a treat because I think those two wickets are Wriddhi bhai's only. When you put the ball outside leg stump you think it'll be a boundary, but if there is a little bit chance to convert a catch, we know he will take it." — Umesh Yadav, India pacer

Kohli, too, picked him out for more praise after India sealed the series 2-0. “Saha was a bit nervous coming into Vizag, but this game he kept beautifully," he said.

Former India fast bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji, who has bowled with Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik and M.S. Dhoni behind the wickets over the years, feels the relationship between the bowler and wicketkeeper is the most vital in the game.

"For a good bowler to be successful, he has to have a good wicketkeeper. If you look across eras, there is enough evidence of that. For a fast bowler, majority of your wickets are caught behind. A bowler and a 'keeper should have a good understanding then the 'keeper will know what the bowler is trying to achieve.

"The bowler and the 'keeper should discuss together to work out dismissals. A bowler isn't frustrated if the 'keeper concedes byes because there tends to be variable bounce on the pitch. It becomes frustrating when a 'keeper drops the catches at the wrong time," said Balaji.

Saha, with his performances with the gloves, has retained the confidence of his bowlers and teammates alike.