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Quiet but determined



Wriddhiman_Saha_India_cricketLight-weight, rather feathery light weight. But able bodied indicating enough fuel in his energy reserve to run past several rounds of feisty competitions on the 22 yards. Even without it appearing so. Efficient. Rather, indicating a mechanical sort efficiency about the way he goes on doing his job. And uncomplainingly so.

There's no hype about the man. Nor is there any kind of hoopla. He may just not know what it means to be indulging in vile shenanigans on the pitch; something that's so much of an unsaid inclusion in the modus operandi of the contemporary international cricketer. He's perhaps the last of the kinds alongside guys like Joss Buttler or Jason Holder or even Rangana Herath and the lot who don't particularly seem to enjoy sledging. And thus, may not even hold Cricket, his bread and butter as an opportunity of 'letting it out' on the opposition. In fact on the contrary, he may just be that guy who believes in collecting the spoils from an unusual or unfamiliar situation on which to build an inning. Or consolidate his position in a contest.

Never much of a talker. But always pro-doing. A genuine attempter. All of this has been evident in the way he's quietly gone about contesting in 18 Tests, 9 ODIs and 69 IPL ties that he's played thus far.

These are mind-boggling numbers

Not for the statistical accumulation for his time has only just arrived, in the proper sense of the word since the last 2-3 years. But for the sense of shocker they impose in the sense that despite debuting in 2010 in both forms of cricket, Wriddhiman Saha has appeared in only just these many cricketing contests for India.

But then that's both a combination of the cut-throat competition Saha has had to endure in cementing his side in India and the somewhat staid presence he has about him that it just doesn't transpire into a beaming, compelling force of energy.

That is where Saha's uniqueness lies too, truth be told

His unhurriedness, composure and an almost telling silence speaks volumes of the man's equanimity. We have seen it time and again in his cyclical sort of consistency for King's Eleven Punjab and most recently for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Rising in a side that's been seeming to have a problem of plenty as opposed to the question of dealing with few, perhaps it is captain cool M.S. Dhoni's aging that has helped Saha a great deal to reinforce his presence in a test side that now sort of seems rather incomplete without this determined wicket-keeping batsman. Kohli wants his wicket-keeping batsman to rise to the occasion. When the likes of Pujara, Sharma and the captain himself moderately impress or casually walk off to pavilion, it now comes down to Jadeja, his antecedent at number 7 and him at number 8 to hold the fort.

Quite honestly, Wriddhiman Saha has excelled in the little opportunities he's had in the middle. He's displayed his caliber and potential as an able test batsman who knows a thing or two about silently transforming a tantalizing contest favoring India's opponents into once again gradually slipping into India's lap. Together with R. Ashwin he compiled what was his most memorable inning recently at Jamaica, that memorable 104 at St. Lucia. And that 104 had Wriddhiman Saha written all over it- calming presence, silent determination and quiet efficiency.

It's almost a pleasure nowadays seeing cricketers being non-fussy

Wriddhiman Saha belongs in quite a complex league of talents; wicket-keeping batsmen. So much of this breed's DNA has changed from the Ian Healy, Jeffery Dujon days. We remember the firebrand cricketers, the flamboyant ones like Adam Gilchrist. Then those with a more pronounced aura like Gilchrist's greatest admirer in the heart of the sub-continent; M.S. Dhoni.

We need no introduction to what the erstwhile wicketkeeper slash now destructor with the willow slash superman A.B. De Villiers can do with the bat. But while all these legends haven't been fussy at all, with Saha, the less vocal contemporary, it is a welcome throwback to the bygone days where cricketers silently went about doing their jobs. And rarely looked perturbed even with there being an alarming situation out there.

It isn't about his batting but how he bats that deserves our respect

Ever ready to jump around and throw in a few words of caution and the customary throw ins of encouragement to Ashwin, Kumar, Sharma and company, Saha is the near-perfect team-man that India needed ever since Dhoni handed his wicket-keeping gloves to him.

But what seems most exciting, almost enigmatic is that Saha can be a bit of a destroyer in the shortest format when none expect him to be one. Even though it came in an IPL match and not in an international T20, Saha's explosive 115 off just 55 for Punjab saw KKR ducking under cover. He infuriated the likes of Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine and Shakib al Hassan, the KKR triumvirate having no idea how to control the hitherto known explosive keeper-batsman. But this is a solid reminder of what Wriddhiman Saha can do for India once the tireless MS Dhoni finally breaks a sweat in T20s.

There are few batsman who seem prepared to dig a hole of concentration in a nervy situation and can keep their wits about them in tense situations. Saha, in his 60 off 120 at Galle in 2015 held an attacking trio of Pradeep, Mathews and Kaushal at bay, finally feeling drained after his wonderful and characteristically composed 169 minute outing in Sri Lanka.

So while he's got a fair deal of 'catching up' to do in the remainder of his career, his current tally of 25 catches and 7 stumpings in tests seems to suggest there's a lot more showing of athleticism and agility that's about to come. He may be 32 but somewhere just ahead of nascence in his career, given only the few outings he's appeared in. But it can be said for certainty that Saha will use his forbearance and patience to serve India well.


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