MI v KXIP Player of the Match: Wriddhiman Saha

The Kings XI Punjab wicketkeeper played a smart innings at the top of the order to lay the foundation for his team’s seven-run victory.

Wriddhiman Saha displayed a variety of strokes from his repertoire.   -  PTI

Although Twenty20 encourages slogging more than other formats of cricket, there is also space for an ‘anchor role’, with much more sagacious and nuanced play to lay the foundation for an innings. At first look, Wriddhiman Saha’s match-winning knock of 93 against Mumbai Indians appears an elongated slogathon, as it reveals a strike-rate of more than 150, but the Kings XI Punjab wicketkeeper rather played a smart innings, full of deft touches, runs obtained via running and an eye for the loose ball. In short, he served up a tasty Indian thali - with a variety of flavours and dishes - than the appealing burger.

Having arrived to bat at the top of the order, Saha soon found he was able to time the ball well; it enabled him to hit a few fours early on off the fast bowlers and gain confidence. He gradually opened up to even play the ramp shot, and the clever chip over fielders’ heads, besides the more orthodox strokes of the pull and the drive. And if the ball sat up nicely in front of him, he punished it appropriately.

Moreover, he could gauge the slower balls and play them according to their merit. One of his sixes was off an offcutter off Lasith Malinga. He remained unbeaten at the end of Kings XI Punjab’s innings having got his team to 230. As he pointed out to Ravi Shastri after the match, 220 was a ‘par’ total on the pitch; and as it turned out, the extra 10 runs were handy.

Saha also contributed to his team’s seven-run victory with his gloves. He took a diving catch to dismiss Hardik Pandy just when the latter looked menacing, having hit four sixes to turn the momentum in Mumbai Indians’ favour. Despite more firework from Kieron Pollard, Kings XI held on.

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