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Wriddhiman Saha: Idol for the new generation?

Wriddhiman Saha played with pluck and determination against Australia at Adelaide in 2012 © Getty Images (File Photo)
Wriddhiman Saha played with pluck and determination against Australia at Adelaide in 2012 © Getty Images (File Photo)

In a recent interview Wriddhiman Saha has been candid about his many preferences in the sport. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a man who stands out in the Twenty20 crowd.

Less than a week back Wriddhiman Saha had captured the imagination of public and pundits with his blazing hundred — the first in an Indian Premier League (IPL) final; one would have expected him to go gaga over it, and possibly even brood over the step-motherly treatment dished out to him by the selectors (it is a difficult ask, of course, with MS Dhoni in the side).

In an interview with PTI, Saha’s reaction was exactly the opposite: “Although the context was completely different but I would rate the innings of 35 in the Adelaide Test and a century stand for the sixth wicket with Virat Kohli closer to my heart…Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle bowled during that phase. I played 94 balls and it was my second Test match. Till I got out, I wasn’t uncomfortable against pace and swing which gave me confidence that I can play at the highest level.”

Were these really the words uttered by an IPL hero hailed by the cricket fraternity?

The performance has probable made a case for Saha to get into the Indian side for his batting alone, but he has been practical enough to realise the fact: “I am practical about the fact. I won’t bat before Ajinkya [Rahane], Cheteshwar [Pujara] or Suresh [Raina]. So I would rather see myself as a keeper-batsman than other way round.”

Seriously? In an era where arrogance and haughtiness are so common that humility is being laughed at?

But Saha does not stop there. Not only does he rate his Test performances higher than the glamorous ones or is more level-headed than most: he is also loyal. In an era where international cricketers often shy from playing First-Class matches, the gloveman is not hesitant to play a level lower despite the risk of picking up injuries while throwing his body around on the bumpy Kolkata fields.

“It’s playing club cricket that I have reached this level. How can I ignore that? Shyambazar, Kalighat, Mohun Bagan made me what I am today. If I am free and can serve my club, I am not the one who would back away citing international tours.” Sunil Gavaskar and Kanga League, anyone?

Contemporary Indian cricket has its share of icons. Saha is not there yet. However, it would not harm the youngsters to idolise his attitude: not many have displayed sophistication, humility, and loyalty at the same time — provided the virtues have not become outdated.

The boy from Siliguri may have come a long way, but one can sense that his feet are still firmly rooted to the ground.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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