India’s wicketkeeper in Tests until the beginning of 2018, Wriddhiman Saha found himself in a quandary after a host of injuries- to his hamstring, thumb and shoulder, which ruled him out of international cricket for the best part of a year and a half. In the meantime, Delhi youngster Rishabh Pant was given an opportunity and he grabbed it with both hands after scoring hundreds in England and Australia. He is now the incumbent in this role.
Chief selector MSK Prasad said that Saha was recalled since the team management had an unwritten rule saying that senior players who had missed out due to injuries would be given another opportunity to make a comeback. However, Prasad also made it clear that Pant is India’s number one wicketkeeper, and Saha will come into the picture only if the former gets injured or needs to be rested.
While Saha’s record in Test cricket wasn’t enough to guarantee a recall into the side, his superior wicket-keeping skills can surely allow him to stand head and shoulders above his peers. A veteran of 32 Tests, the Bengal gloveman has 1164 runs at an average of around 30 but his wicket-keeping skills are unmatched. Pant may be the better batsman, but there is no beating Saha the ‘keeper.
The Indian team management may find it difficult to have Saha around for much longer given that he is already 34 years old, and Andhra stumper KS Bharat is breathing down his neck, but for the time being, the former has deserved another crack at Test cricket. He will play understudy to Rishabh Pant in the Caribbean, thirteen years his junior, and it remains to be seen if he takes that well. However, little has been made in the media of Saha’s ego and one can be sure that the affable, down-to-earth man from Shaktigarh will take on his new role with fresh enthusiasm.
This isn’t the first time that India have decided to recall a senior player after an injury. Karun Nair had to make way for Ajinkya Rahane straight after scoring a triple century against England in the playing eleven in a one-off Test match against Bangladesh. Saha, however, has not come into the side at anyone’s expense, and it is highly unlikely that he will make the playing eleven in the West Indies. However, the fact that the selectors stuck by their word and displayed morality in times of decadency must be appreciated.
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