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Wriddhi the best: Virat Kohli

'I felt for now, it’s the right time for Saha to come back and get into his zone'

By Our Bureau in Calcutta

  • Published 2.10.19, 5:48 AM
  • Updated 2.10.19, 10:27 AM
Saha during practice in Visakhapatnam.
Saha during practice in Visakhapatnam. (Twitter)

Virat Kohli on Tuesday confirmed what was being openly discussed in the corridors of Indian cricket for some time now.

The India captain said that Wriddhiman Saha would be replacing the struggling Rishabh Pant for the first Test versus South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

He also termed Saha the “best wicketkeeper” in the world. That Saha is being considered as the No. 1 wicketkeeper when it comes to Test matches was reported by The Telegraph on July 24.

Such compliment only reflects the kind of faith the India captain has in the ’keeper-batsman, who last played for India in the Cape Town Test in 2018.

“Saha is fit and fine to go. He is going to start the series for us. His wicket keeping credentials are there for everyone to see. He has done well with the bat whenever he has got a chance,” Kohli said on the eve of the first Test. “It was unfortunate that he was out with an injury… According to me, he is the best ’keeper in the world. And in these conditions, he starts for us.”

Saha was out of the team for a long time due to a shoulder injury, followed by a thumb issue and returned to the squad during the two-Test series in the West Indies. But he wasn’t part of the XI in those two Tests as the team management continued with Pant.

But the Delhi player, despite being quite younger than Saha, repeatedly failed to cash in on the opportunities and that turned out to be a factor in the team management’s decision to get back to Saha.

According to Kohli, the team management wanted to ease Saha back into the XI and that was one of the reasons why the 34-year-old did not play in the Caribbean.

“We felt Rishabh, given the opportunities, had done well. Although Saha was always going to start, we felt we should just let him ease back into things rather than just forcing him into starting immediately.

“We all felt he has just come back and although he is keeping well and batting well, it was fair to give Rishabh a few more opportunities because of what he has done for us last season,” Kohli explained.

He emphasised that Saha was always going to be the first-choice wicket keeper-batsman in the traditional format. “...Saha was always the one we would back as a pure ’keeper in Test cricket.

“He has done well under pressure situations in the past, so it was just about finding the right opportunity to bring him back in. And you need to be careful in a team environment where you understand when to bring a player back and when to give another guy more opportunities.

“I felt for now, it’s the right time for Saha to come back and get into his zone.”

The skipper also confirmed that Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would be the two specialist spinners in the XI with Hanuma Vihari being the third spin option, leaving out Kuldeep Yadav.

“Wherever the conditions allow us to go with two spinners, Ash is always going to be a threat and in home conditions with his batting and also the way he bowls, he is always going to be starting with Jadeja. That was a no-brainer for us,” Kohli added.