Home Sports Cricket Saha — from India’s greatest gloveman to Tripura’s mentor-in-chief

Saha — from India’s greatest gloveman to Tripura’s mentor-in-chief

Saha — from India’s greatest gloveman to Tripura’s mentor-in-chief


In early 2022, Wriddhiman Saha was despondent and desolate. Unceremoniously dumped from the Indian Test squad forward of the two-match collection at residence to Sri Lanka, the wicketkeeper-batter additionally had his dedication questioned by an official again residence on the Cricket Association of Bengal after he pulled out of the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy citing private causes.

The axe from the National workforce was the primary time since M.S. Dhoni handed on his wicketkeeping gloves that Saha wasn’t a part of the Indian roster. Saha hasn’t performed a Test since then, with Ok.S. Bharat and now Ishan Kishan leap-frogging him within the race to be the second-choice after Rishabh Pant. The tiff with Bengal wasn’t resolved and that led to him severing ties with a state for whom he had performed all profession, together with 52 occasions within the Ranji Trophy.

For most gamers within the improper aspect of 30s as Saha was, such unsavoury happenings would have spelt the top of their careers and marked a quiet retreat into the commentator’s field or a training function in one in all many franchise cricket leagues which have mushroomed all over the world.

ALSO READ: Saha joins Tripura as mentor-player

But not for Saha. The now 39-year-old has accomplished two profitable seasons with Gujarat Titans within the Indian Premier League, profitable the title on debut in 2022 and ending a creditable finalist to Chennai Super Kings in 2023. Saha has performed 28 of Titans’ 33 matches, together with all 17 in 2023, scoring 688 runs at a wholesome common of 27.44 and a strike-rate of greater than 120.

Gujarat Titans’ Wriddhiman Saha plays a shot during the IPL 2023 final  between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings.

Gujarat Titans’ Wriddhiman Saha performs a shot through the IPL 2023 ultimate between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings.
| Photo Credit:
File Photo: Ok.R. DEEPAK

After quitting Bengal, Saha took up a player-cum-mentor function with Tripura. In the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy, with Saha as captain, Tripura secured the first-innings lead in opposition to former champions Gujarat and Punjab, additionally over the then defending champion Madhya Pradesh.

This season, within the just-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy group stage, he led Tripura to well-known wins in opposition to reigning champion Saurashtra and heavyweight Mumbai. The Northeastern state completed third behind Mumbai and Kerala in Group-A. One extra victory would have given Saha’s males a real probability at making the knockouts.


Saha performed 28 of Titans’ 33 video games, together with all 17 in 2023, scoring 688 runs at a wholesome common of 27.44 and a strike-rate of greater than 120

In the 2023-24 Hazare Trophy, Tripura recorded thumping wins over Saurashtra (148 runs) and Mumbai (53 runs by VJD technique)

Even on the age of 39, the wicketkeeper-batter has dedicated to play the total schedule for Tripura

ALSO READ: Vijay Hazare Trophy 2023 | Tripura stuns Saurashtra

“When I landed in Tripura after leaving Bengal, it didn’t feel like I had come to some new team,” Saha informed 247 I News on the sidelines of the Vijay Hazare Trophy match in opposition to Saurashtra on the Alur Cricket Stadium. “The common thing that connects me with Tripura is the language. We both speak Bengali and I have played with their players in the zonals. So I knew them pretty well.

“The environment was also such that, as a captain, I could get my message across 100%. Whatever I asked of the team, they have given me. That also means I should be delivering. So it’s both ways and it has been great.

“We have performed consistently. Percentage-wise, the wins may not be that high, but we are improving steadily. We have built a good environment, and overall, batting and bowling contingents are shaping well. If this continues, we will win more matches.”

Wriddhiman Saha (left), captain of Tripura Cricket Team, during the Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Railways.

Wriddhiman Saha (left), captain of Tripura Cricket Team, through the Vijay Hazare Trophy match in opposition to Railways.
| Photo Credit:

Saha’s shift to a less-heralded workforce is in keeping with what many a senior achieved cricketer has completed within the Indian home circles. Uttar Pradesh’s RP Singh performed for Gujarat, so did Piyush Chawla and Andhra’s Venugopal Rao. Robin Uthappa turned out for Kerala after leaving Karnataka and Ganesh Satish, a former Karnataka captain, performed for Vidarbha and even helped the aspect win the Ranji Trophy. Ganesh is now at Tripura alongside Saha, lending some metal and high-level tactical know-how.

“Smaller teams’ players may not have much experience about how to chase a target or about how to convert a start into a bigger innings,” Saha defined. “If two or three experienced players come in, it definitely helps, even in practice sessions. The role of a professional is exactly that — to share knowledge, charge up the atmosphere and take the team along.”

What Saha has dropped at Tripura is his assured presence behind the stumps and a peaceful head. The expertise that made him the most effective gloveman in India are nonetheless in tact — protected and orderly assortment, supreme anticipation and excessive ranges of focus. Like Mohd. Azharuddin at his greatest, there’s an economic system of motion in what he does, however there’s seldom a scenario the place he isn’t on the proper place on the proper time.

Pant-style acrobatics aren’t for him, although when wanted, he can summon a diluted, however equally efficient, model of them. So a lot in order that, throughout Tripura’s match in opposition to Kerala final week at Alur, when he dived to his left to latch on to a quick ball that was racing all the way down to the leg-side boundary, chants of “Superman Superman” reverberated.

“I don’t train much quantity-wise,” Saha stated. “It has reduced a lot. I focus more on recovery now because the ageing process will not stop. So it has become more about quality practice than quantity.”

“In T20 cricket, ‘keeping is not very hectic, because not many balls reach the wicket-keeper…only about 10 or 12 maximum. But one-day cricket and Ranji are challenging. If you bat, then you have to come back and keep for 50 overs. In Ranji, it may be more. So I focus more on ice-baths, sleep and relaxation. I do all of that diligently so that I am fine the next day.”

It is astonishing why Saha, at this stage in his career, is willing to put himself through this ordeal and go through the extreme rigours of domestic cricket. He has committed to play a full schedule for Tripura — Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20), Vijay Hazare Trophy (one-day) and Ranji Trophy (four-day). Good performances may result in selections to the zonal teams. For someone who has played 40 Tests for India, winning State-level titles and regional selections do not generally hold much allure.

India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (L) makes an attempt to take a catch to dismiss South Africa captain Faf du Plessis (R) through the fourth day of play of the second check cricket match between India and South Africa.

India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (L) makes an attempt to take a catch to dismiss South Africa captain Faf du Plessis (R) through the fourth day of play of the second check cricket match between India and South Africa.
| Photo Credit:
File Photo

“Playing with the Indian National team was a different experience. I can’t even describe it,” Saha stated. “[But] when I was not selected, I decided that I would play just for the enjoyment of it. During childhood, when I came into cricket, it was only because I enjoyed playing the sport. I will continue until that feeling remains.”

Saha, nevertheless, is aware that his function as a participant doesn’t take priority over his job as a mentor. It mirrored in how he was unwilling to be photographed after his workforce’s splendid win over Saurashtra, and as a substitute requested this correspondent to make use of photos of his teammates.

“I left Bengal because there was some jhamela [mess], but even when I was there, I used to share my experience of international cricket, the knowledge and my own personal views with all players. I am doing the same here with Tripura, maybe a bit more.

“The only goal I have now is to help Tripura. Like, I sometimes hold myself back from batting higher up. If there is someone who can get ahead in his career by scoring runs, and get selected for the Deodhar Trophy or Duleep trophy, I allow them. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I don’t bat up the order.

“That is my role — to take the team forward and help them play at a higher level so that players start thinking big and selectors also notice them.”


Content Source: www.thehindu.com


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