Bengal and Indian Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was sidelined from the Test series against England owing to his recent shoulder surgery. In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Saha has opened up on his journey so far which in many ways has been an up and down one.
Recalling the interesting story behind his Test debut, Saha said " Rohit had done well in the practice game and hence was calling in for the injured VVS Laxman. We were playing handball, Rohit was trying to dismiss me by touching me, poor thing that he landed awkwardly around my boot and twisted his ankle. He went off immediately, I didn't know it would turn out to be so unfortunate for him. He then made his debut some four years later, right?"
He then said how it was like sharing the dressing room with the likes of the Indian stalwarts. It is very important to keep yourself motivated. "I toured with the side to South Africa in 2013, New Zealand and England in 2014. The key is to be match fit and prepared. Only when the toss takes place and the players go out on the field, should you know that you aren't a part of the eleven. Yes, in the nets, you might not be facing up to the pacers from the eleven but still to make the most of the chances with the net bowlers or helping your teammates with something should give you joy. I kept a close eye on the preparation of the big players - Sachin, Laxman, Rahul and took lessons. The biggest thing to note is even in the most impossible situations, these players never uttered a single negative word. Same with Zaheer. It sounds so easy but to be positive in every cell of the body is something else."
One of the highlights of Saha's career so far was that he was a constant part of the Indian team during their 2016 home season which included 13 Test matches. He looked back to the period saying " Preparation, well, we always know the kind of wickets that are being prepared in India, so our preparations leading up to the matches would be in tune with it. Some would turn and bounce, some would stay low. I work accordingly with R Sridhar and that's helped immensely during matches. Ashwin has of course a lot more variations than Jadeja, so keeping to Ashwin was always the tougher challenge. Jadeja's accuracy is a lot better, but fewer variations, he's a little more predictable in the sense he'll keep landing it in a particular area and if one turns big, it would come to me. And yes, I discuss with Ashwin and Jadeja during practice and before the game, about their plans, variations, thoughts. In fact, the Test against Australia in Bengaluru - the one which we won on the final day, I remember Matt Renshaw stepping out to Jadeja frequently and going after him. After keeping for sometime, I noticed that he was consistently stepping out on either the second or the third ball. Jadeja and me had a chat, we decided that he will bowl the second or the third ball around leg and turn it further down. As it happened, Renshaw stepped out and missed, I broke the stumps to get him out stumped. We planned similarly with Ashwin, Amit Mishra. And yes, Ashwin keeps adding to his stocks, so we do discuss a lot about the new things he's doing, the kind of rotations I might see to pick it up better. So we were always in sync. Big home season, turning tracks, we couldn't have afforded to make mistakes because the spinners will be at it for the maximum length of the game."
Its also often said that Wriddhiman Saha was born in the wrong era with MS Dhoni being a part of the Indian side which has curtailed his progress. Saha finally shared his views on the same saying " Who doesn't want to play for India? When Dhoni was playing for India and we were playing domestic cricket, we focused on our performances, as boring as it may sound. It was never like, "Okay, Dinesh Karthik has hit a ton today, I have to match up as well, or for Parthiv." All of us try equally, we try and be the best we can be for our state sides or IPL teams or clubs, that would catch the attention. It is important in such situations, especially when you have someone as successful and immovable as Dhoni at the top. It is key to not lose your head when selected or get demoralised when dropped. I don't keep an eye on others' scores. Of course there are people who will remind you of these scores, but it depends how you filter it."
He then kept his views on people stereotyping him only as a wicketkeeper despite his gutsy attitude with the bat. "I think it is a known secret in our circles that right from my club days I have always devoted more time to my wicketkeeping than my batting. I have always tried to be a proper, which somehow fits into the Test scheme of things, call it traditional, maybe that's how I have been perceived. I honestly enjoy shorter formats more but since I have had opportunities in Test cricket, I try and ensure that I don't falter in there trying to do something to fit into the shorter forms and lose what I have. I don't know who's branded me as a Test-only cricketer, but yes, since I play the red-ball form for India, my focus is obviously tilted towards that. I turn up for my domestic team and club in white-ball, I enjoy every role. But yes, I try that extra yard to ensure my focus and priority remains in the right place - Test cricket.
He finally concluded his interaction by sharing his interests outside the cricket field. " I love Gujarati food, right from childhood. I don't like spicy, oily food. I like the sweetness in Gujarati food. I don't eat it as often but I indulge in it sometimes. In leisure, I like spending time at home or spend time with cricketers at P Sen Cricket Coaching Centre. I love watching movies - Hindi, English, Bengali. I love comedy movies, sci-fi also excites me. We all love indulging in Playstation."