Unfortunate but “ideal” team man Saha’s role is to do “tough job” when Pant is not available: Rathour


PTI, Nov 28, 2021, 7:34 PM IST

Wriddhiman Saha is an ”ideal team man” who can always be relied to do the ”tough job” but unfortunately he will have to play the second fiddle when India’s number one keeper-batter Rishabh Pant gets back from break, batting coach Vikra Rathour said on Sunday.

Saha, the oldest member of the current Indian set-up at 37, is playing his 39th Test in 11 years since his debut. His first five years after debut went as legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s understudy and even if it sounds crude, he is now a back-up for 24-year-old Pant.

On Sunday, with his Test career on line, Saha battled hard with a stiff-neck for his gutsy 61 not out after Shreyas Iyer laid the platform with an attractive 65.

”He had a really, really stiff neck and knowing Saha who is an ideal team man, he is going to do whatever is required,” batting coach Rathour waxed eloquent about the veteran keeper, who shared two fifty-plus stands with Iyer and Axar Patel.

”He would do the tough things for the team and he played an extremely important knock at the stage the team was at that point.” Saha is a quiet person, someone who is not known to be too expressive but the teams knows that the ‘plod and grind effort’ will come from the gritty man, who hails from North Bengal city of Siliguri. ”That is what we always expect from Wriddhi. He has always been that kind of a person, whom we can count on and today he showed why,” Rathour said.

However, he made it clear that even at this juncture of his career, the Bengal stumper is nothing more than a stop-gap option for Team India as Pant has pushed him far back during away series in Australia where the senior man was given a first go.

”As far as Wriddhi is concerned, unfortunately for him, we have an extremely special player Rishabh, who is number one keeper for us and has done extremely well in past few years. ”That’s the role (No. 2) Wriddhi has at the moment that we need him when Pant is not available,” Rathour spelt it loud and clear, something he didn’t do when asked about Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s future.

Iyer’s second innings was better effort than his first

The batting coach said they had only one advice for Iyer — to back his natural game and not do anything different just because he is playing a Test match.

”It’s always exciting when a debutant comes in and scores a hundred and that’s very special. I thought he looked even better in the second innings, all credit to him. ”It’s exciting as a support staff to see somebody walking in and doing it for the team. He showed he is a confident young guy, uses his feet very very well against spin.”

Tail-enders doing well consistently

The coaching staff over the past two years during Ravi Shastri’s regime has been devoting lot more time towards nurturing the batting prowess of number nine , 10 and 11 and that has been yielding results now.

”This is a deliberate effort from our side that we have been trying to give them lot more batting whenever we are having nets. That’s what we have done for couple of years and that strategy is paying off.” ”We have seen in the past and what other teams have done against us and other teams have put up totals after we have taken 4-5 wickets. So good to see we are doing that now and doing it repeatedly,” he signed off.

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