IND vs NZ: A call on Saha’s availability will be taken closer to Mumbai Test, says Mhambrey

The team management is in regular conversation with the physios assessing Wriddhiman Saha’s recovery from a stiff neck, says bowling coach Paras Mhambrey.

Wriddhiman Saha scored a half-century in the second innings of the first Test in Kanpur.   -  PTI

The Indian team management will take a call on the availability of Wriddhiman Saha “closer to” the second Test, which begins at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

In the first Test in Kanpur, Saha batted despite a stiff neck and went on to score a half-century in the second innings. And lauding his efforts, India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey stated that the team management - head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Virat Kohli - are in regular conversation with the physios, who are assessing Saha’s recovery.

“We will take a call closer to the game. Physios are in constant touch with Rahul and Virat. Closer to the game, we can take a call on what condition he is in. Whatever he did in the last game was a fabulous effort. It was painful to bat, but he raised his hands and delivered for the team,” Mhambrey said.

In the Kanpur Test, K. S. Bharat had to keep the stumps as a substitute for Saha, but ahead of the crucial Test in Mumbai, the team management does not want to take a hasty decision.

‘Good headache’

With New Zealand earning a draw in Kanpur, India will be desperate to win in Mumbai and clinch the two-match Test series and with captain Virat Kohli back in the squad, the team management will have a challenge to pick the right combination.

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“It is a good [headache to have]. We have so much talent available and that speaks volumes about Indian cricket. With youngsters coming up, we want to give them an opportunity and someone like Shreyas comes up with a 100 and follows up with a 50 - that’s fabulous. That speaks volumes about Indian cricket and the way forward. But then, we have to see the combinations that would suit the particular wicket. We are happy to have that kind of problem,” Mhambrey said.

‘Backing Rahane, Pujara’

While Iyer had a dream Test debut in Kanpur, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara failed to convert the starts into big scores. However, Mhambrey suggested that both the batters are just an innings away from striking form.

“It is both for Ajinkya and Pujara - they have huge experience. We also know that they are one innings away [from finding form]. We are backing them. They have played enough cricket to understand what is expected from them and get going,” the bowling coach said.

Talking about the first Test where India failed to clinch the game despite putting New Zealand in a spin, he said, “There are a lot of positives that we can take from the last game. We did not win the Test match, but we are happy with the effort everyone put in. It was not an easy wicket, we were unlucky at times. There was no bounce on the wicket, a couple of edges did not carry - had that happened, results would have been different. Overall, we are extremely happy with the effort everyone put in.”

There is a possibility that India could look at fielding Mohammad Siraj ahead of Ishant Sharma for the second Test and speaking about the road ahead for Ishant, Mhambrey said: “Ishant has not played much Test cricket (recently), that does make a difference. We are working on it. He has huge experience under his belt and it makes a huge difference having him in the dressing room. Having him around and learning the nuances from him is an opportunity for young bowlers. We will work on his rhythm and he needs a couple of games to get going.”

With the city witnessing incessant rain owing to a low-pressure area having developed in the Arabian Sea off the northern Maharashtra coastline, both India and New Zealand called off their practice sessions on Wednesday.

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