Wriddhiman Saha talks Ranji, Rishabh Pant and fitness

India Test specialist stumper Saha came back from New Zealand and played his first Ranji Trophy final for Bengal in Rajkot.

Wriddhiman Saha played a valiant knock as Bengal jostled for first-innings lead in Ranji Trophy final   -  VIJAY SONEJI

Sitting in one corner of the dressing room balcony at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Wriddhiman Saha looked relaxed after the Ranji Trophy final; satisfied after playing an official red ball match after three months. Bengal lost but not without a fight. The golden highlight in the hair above his forehead, usually hidden by the helmet and cap, looked prominent as he greeted Sitanshu Kotak, the former Saurashtra batsman. “Kotak bhai, Arpit Vasavada bilkul aap jaisa khelta hai,” he tells Kotak.

The superman stumper had injured his right ring finger during the pink ball Test against Bangladesh in November. The Test series in New Zealand would have marked his comeback but he warmed the bench with Rishabh Pant galloping around with the wicketkeeping gloves.

In a chat with Sportstar, Saha reflected on his maiden Ranji final, future as the India ‘keeper and limited DRS in domestic cricket.

Excerpts…

How do you sum up the Ranji final? Bengal fought hard...

Firstly, it was a pleasure to play the Ranji final. I never thought would play one. Manoj [Tiwary] has played. When I didn’t play the Tests in New Zealand, I was practising with the red ball to keep myself prepared for the final if Bengal qualified; others were practising with the white ball for ODI series [against South Africa] and the IPL. I got a good team environment once I joined. The wicket wasn’t as expected for the final but you can’t give excuses. You have to deliver come what may. We lost the toss which was vital. We were a little behind in everything. Even with runs, partnership. The food was right in front but somebody snatched it.

Read: Pujara: Ranji Trophy performance needs importance

You batted for 247 minutes with Sudip Chatterjee scoring 64...

The guys who scored here took time as the wicket was not easy. Everybody took time. There was no pace and bounce, so playing shots weren’t easy.

What’s your take on the limited DRS? You survived close calls...

We have earlier played ‘umpire call=final call’ which could have gone for or against. Now that there is DRS, we can gauge that the umpire may make a mistake. His ‘yes’ can be our ‘no’ and vice versa. When the umpire is saying ‘yes’, we are probably not believing it. DRS is to challenge umpires but if there is full DRS, it will be much better. It will help either sides.

How would you assess Bengal’s season and Abhimanyu Easwaran’s captaincy? How was it to play under a young captain?

After the match, we had a discussion on the season, where we went wrong and where we did well. Whatever I have seen, I thought we were a bit more consistent compared to previous years. I think if the opening partnerships were better, that would have been good. We should check our shot selection and play according to the situation. Abhimanyu is a good batsman and he is just going through a bad time, which can happen. He is captaining for the first time. It is not that his decision is the final one as he is consulting everyone. We are three or four in the  group with whom he discusses. He asks all of us before taking decisions. I want him to contribute more as a batsman.

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Wriddhiman Saha dives forward to take a catch   -  PTI

At 35, how tough is it to pull off those dives?

I obviously don’t do things that I did at 22. The body will not allow me to do that. I choose quality over quantity. You don’t need to catch 200 a day at the nets.

The whole world thought you would play in New Zealand but you didn’t. How tough was it to sit out?

Normally, every player gets to know the squad before the match when the batting order is decided. I got to know after going there. It is not tough because you are still part of the team. You have to go by team management decision based on the conditions but yes, inside, you feel that hopefully you will play since you played the last Test series.

Has there been any specific communication from the team management that you would keep in India and Rishabh in overseas?

I haven’t been informed anything personally yet. But I keep the team in front and individual choices later. If team decides Rishabh will play, I will be fine with it as I want the team to win.

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