Wriddhiman Saha remembers that evening in Cape Town when India’s head coach Rahul Dravid called him in his room to have a chat. India had just lost the third Test and also conceded the series, and like a few other players, Saha - a member of the Test squad - was preparing to return home after a long tour.

“Rahul  bhai  called me soon after the Test. I thought maybe he wanted to tell why he could not include me in the playing eleven and what’s the way forward. After the Test [in Kanpur] against New Zealand, Dadi (Sourav Ganguly) texted me congratulating me for my innings and boosted my confidence. So, when Rahul  bhai  called me, I thought maybe he wanted to talk to me about his plans,” Saha told  Sportstar  on Saturday, hours after he was dropped from the Indian team for the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

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“But as we started speaking, Rahul bhai said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but for a while, a few selectors and the team management are thinking of trying a new keeper’. I asked him whether it is because of my age or fitness, but Rahul  bhai  told me that it is not just because of age or performance. They were looking at younger talents, and since you are not playing in the eleven, we thought of looking at other talents…” Saha claimed.

According to the 37-year-old stumper-batter, Dravid apparently told him that he should not be surprised if the selectors did not pick him for the Sri Lanka series. “Rahul  bhai  told me that, if you want to take any decision, you may consider. I told him that I don’t want to take any call yet, because there is plenty of cricket left in me and also there is IPL… I have always played for the love of the game, and till the time I enjoy it, I will play,” Saha, who has been in the Test arena for about a decade, said.


After he returned to India, Saha receieved a call from the national selection committee chairman Chetan Sharma. “Chetan Sharma told me that they will not consider me for the Sri Lanka series. I asked him whether it is just for the Sri Lanka series, or is it also beyond that? He took a pause and then said, from now on, you will not be considered,” Saha claimed.

“I asked him the same question - whether it is for my performance or for my age? He said that they were looking at a younger talent. But he also advised me to play the Ranji Trophy, but the call is yours…”

On Saturday, addressing the media, Sharma claimed that the senior players - Saha, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma - were informed that they would not be picked for the series against Sri Lanka. However, he insisted that the performances in the Ranji Trophy should open doors for them.

While Pujara and Rahane are featuring in the Ranji Trophy, Saha decided to skip the tournament to be with the family. “Just before I left for South Africa, my wife was admitted to the hospital on account of dengue. Even though she is better, she is not fully fit. So, after being inside the bubble for months, I decided to be with the family and spend some time with the children. That became a big talking point,” Saha said.

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All this while he had remained quiet due to team protocols, but now, he claims that he will not give up. "I was surprised to see how the entire matter got leaked to the media, and my decision of not playing the Ranji Trophy became such a big issue. Back then, I thought that it is important to spend time with the family and that's why I took the decision. I am gearing up for the IPL stint with Gujarat Titans. If the management decides to give me a chance in the playing eleven, I will try and deliver. I have not decided what I will do next season…” Saha said.

The seasoned campaigner admits that there is not much motivation left, but he still wants to get going. “It is not a tough phase. When I heard those things, it was very difficult to come to terms with it. But I have taken things in my stride and won’t quit till the time I am enjoying my game…”