Wriddhiman Saha: No More the T20 Misfit

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One of the many problems of modern cricket is that it has thrown the players into the buckets of various formats. Earlier, there was a talk that Rohit Sharma was a misfit for the Test side, and he proved everyone wrong. Then there was a talk that KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are misfits for the T20 side, they too proved everyone wrong. Now it is the turn of Wriddhiman Saha, who has been labelled another misfit for T20s, and he is well on the verge of breaking that misconception.

It is a pity when a quality player gets sidelined because of another promising career in his parallel. Wriddhiman Saha, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik have been the victims of MS Dhoni’s brilliance without a fault of theirs. Post Dhoni’s retirement, India has juggled between these three before settling for younger keepers in the shorter formats of the game. However, Saha has been an easy pick for the Indian Test team.

But there’s more to Saha than those Test credentials. He reads the game brilliantly, his glove-work is supreme, every move of his is well-calculated and he is dominant in the Powerplays. He boasts of a good strike-rate of 130+ in the IPL. And despite all this, his name is still associated with Tests.

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Even SRH, his IPL franchise, didn’t consider him as the primary choice as a keeper-batsman. He hasn’t been a regular feature in the playing XI for it. In 2019, he couldn’t make the most of the opportunities given to him. Even in his first game this year, he failed to make an impact struggling with a 31-ball 30. Batting in the middle-order, he clearly looked like a fish out of the water.

But another opportunity knocked his door when SRH was desperate to strengthen its middle-order. With the need to position Kane Williamson and Jason Holder in the middle, SRH had to drop the dynamic keeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow and bring in Saha once again, but this time, as an opener. The opening slot is something he has always favoured, and he made an immediate impact.

The impeccable glove-work in action (Image Source: Hotstar)

In his first game as an opener against the Delhi Capitals, he tore apart the bowlers in the powerplay. Batting against bowlers such as Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and R Ashwin, Saha’s attack was a treat to watch. He finished the day with a score of 87 in just 45 balls. In his next match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, chasing a low total, he gave SRH a great start. He ended up as the highest scorer for that day scoring 39 runs on a challenging wicket. Even in the latest match against the Mumbai Indians, he made great use of the powerplay and played a perfect partner-in-crime to an attacking David Warner. Saha remained unbeaten at 58 this time.

Assess – Adapt – Attack: Saha’s Mantra
(Image Source: Sunrisers Hyderabad | Twitter)

And Saha’s contributions have been more than those runs we can see. He has given flying starts with the bat helping SRH with a good score in the powerplays. Known for being an intelligent player, he is partnering with the bowlers to pick up key wickets. He has also strengthened the think-tank comprising on players like Warner, Williamson and Holder on the field.

But Saha’s biggest contribution would be Warner’s form. Warner who was batting at an unusual strike-rate of 129.59 in the 11 matches before he opened with Saha has been batting with a strike-rate of 169.04 after he partnered with Saha. Saha being able to take on the bowlers easily has allowed Warner to step into his natural style of aggressive batting.

Saha’s grand entry into the Sunrisers has made this team a force to reckon with. With some powerful performances with the bat and some impeccable work behind the wicket, Saha has added an extra muscle to the Sunrisers who will be hoping to lift the IPL trophy. Saha may or may not continue his form to the playoffs, but he surely busted the myth that he is only fit for Tests and that his 20-ball century in a domestic T20 match was not a rare onslaught.

Featured Image: IPLT20 | Twitter

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