Saha happy to help teammate Rishabh Pant

While Saha watched from the sidelines, Rishabh Pant established himself as an exciting wicketkeeper-batsman and the Bengal veteran is happy to help his younger teammate.

Saha flourished on the big stage, until a hamstring injury ruled him out of the second Test in South Africa in January 2018.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

Wriddhiman Saha had to bide his time when M.S. Dhoni’s star shone long and bright. It was only in 2014 when Dhoni retired from Test cricket did the door open for Saha to make his name as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper.

Saha flourished on the big stage, until a hamstring injury ruled him out of the second Test in South Africa in January 2018. A few more injuries followed, forcing him out of action for more than a year. While Saha watched from the sidelines, Rishabh Pant established himself as an exciting wicketkeeper-batsman.

The setback could have broken most sportspersons, but Saha chose to remain positive. “When I was sitting out, I didn’t feel sorry for myself or carry any negative thoughts. The physio told me that if I was 20, I would have recovered in quick time. But I was 33, so it would naturally take a longer time for me to recover. I kept that in mind, and I just tried to enjoy my training,” Saha said.

“Some of my friends and family were upset that I was forced out when I was playing well, but I’m not the sort to feel bad about losing my spot in a team. Right from my childhood, I’ve carried a positive outlook.”

Staying in the present

The Bengal cricketer took a huge step towards resurrecting his international career a couple of months ago, when he was named as one of two wicketkeepers in the Test squad for the West Indies tour, alongside Pant.

Saha didn’t get a game in the Caribbean, but that didn’t stop him from helping out his teammates. “Fielding coach R. Sridhar and I gave some tips to Pant. Pant knows what to do, but we gave him small reminders to help him out,” Saha, who leads India ‘A’ in the second unofficial Test against South Africa ‘A’ here, said.

Pant’s poor shot selection on the tour, however, came in for criticism from coach Ravi Shastri and former players. If Saha manages to pile on the runs for India ‘A’, he could edge out Pant for a spot in the playing eleven for the upcoming home Test series against South Africa.

“My goal is to perform well in every match I play, so that if the opportunity comes to play for the Indian team, I will be ready. But for now, I’m focussed on doing well for India ‘A’ here in Mysuru. I don’t think too far ahead,” Saha said.