IPL 2020: Wriddhiman Saha is keeper of faith for Hyderabad
Saha’s opening partnership with Warner has made all the difference for Hyderabad
This Indian Premier League (IPL) all the talk has been about the young, dynamic wicket-keepers currently on display.
Rishabh Pant’s exit from the white ball squads for Australia tour, Ishan Kishan’s non-selection and Sanju Samson’s rise to the number two wicketkeeper in the T20I squad has been the talk of the IPL thus far. Then somewhere there has been the talk about Lokesh Rahul’s rise to being the vice-captain of the white-ball squads, apart from his keeping and of course the eternal discussion around Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But amidst all this, one man has been under the radar and has come in without much fanfare. He just swooped in when no one was looking and has made the biggest difference in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s late resurgence in the IPL.
This of course is Wriddhiman Saha who has had to come in following a string of disappointing results which forced some changes in the Hyderabad XI. No wonder his rival in his first match as an opener, Delhi Capitals were caught napping.
“Saha played beautifully and actually surprised me a bit,” admitted Delhi Capitals Head Coach Ricky Ponting post the match.
This knock of 87 from Saha came a day after he was retained in the Test squad for the Australia tour. In most cases it should have been a given. But currently in India if you are a Test specialist, every time you get selected in the squad it is a ‘comeback’.
It required a strong validation from India Head Coach Ravi Shastri to confirm what the think-tank thought about Saha. “To the best Glove Man in the world. Outstanding performance tonight,” Shastri tweeted in praise.
There has been constant speculation around whether Saha will continue in the Indian Test XI. It was said that the Indian think-tank prefers Pant for his batting overseas and Saha for his keeping at home.
His exclusion after the initial phase of this year’s IPL added to the talk around Saha’s position in Indian cricket. But Hyderabad captain David Warner had a specific role in mind for Saha as he was brought in place of English player Jonny Bairstow.
“Difficult decision to leave Jonny out and get Saha in, and especially batting a batsman like Kane at 4. Incredible knock from Saha though and his strike-rate in the powerplay was incredible,” said Warner after the match against Delhi.
Saha’s opening partnership with Warner has made all the difference for Hyderabad. It appears that it is the clarity of thought around his role that has helped Saha.
“The first match I played, I had thought of how I would approach the game but, in this match, (against Delhi), I didn’t think much, just asked David (Warner) how to approach, and he said ‘play freely’’ and I too like playing freely. Then we took chances in the first six overs and then we carried the momentum,” Saha told teammate Rashid Khan in a video on iplt20.com.
There has never been any doubt around Saha’s ability as a ‘keeper. It has always been the flamboyant approach with the bat of the younger claimants that has weighed in their favour. At 36 Saha is not getting any younger, but those around him rate him very highly.
“I think he is up there with Tim Paine as classical glovemen of the world. It is refreshing to see some of the catches he has taken in the sessions. Saha knows his game very, very well. He can bat at the top of the order for SRH and he has also batted smartly at the lower order. He gives a lot of flexibility as he can be used in many different areas,” Brad Haddin, Hyderabad assistant coach, had praised Saha earlier in the season.
Chandresh Narayanan is an Indian cricket author and broadcaster
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