Wriddhiman Saha © Getty Images
Wriddhiman Saha’s performance on the Sri Lanka tour will be closely monitored © Getty Images

Since his debut in 2009, Wriddhiman Saha has been India‘s shadow wicketkeeper. The presence of a figure like MS Dhoni has always forced him out of the playing XI despite being one of India’s best wicketkeepers in recent time. However, after a wait of almost six years, Saha is finally going on a full tour (barring the one-off Test in Bangladesh, where rain played spoilsport) with the Indian team as a first-choice keeper. This could be the make-or-break series for Saha. Sandipan Banerjee feels the soft-spoken Bengal cricketer needs to play a different brand of cricket to sustain his place in the team.

Bengal has a rich history of cricket. In Eden Gardens you will always find a passionate crowd, cheering for their team relentlessly. In the Maidans (epicentre of sports in Bengal) of Kolkata, you will always see budding cricketers nourishing their skills throughout the year. But despite this enormous cricketing culture, Bengal has not produced many top class international cricketers barring Sourav Ganguly. There is enough talent but somehow they failed to make it big, thanks to the traditional safe-aside Bengali approach. Unfortunately, Wriddhiman Saha is a classic example of it. READ: Poll, India vs Sri Lanka 2015; who should bat at No. 3 for India?

‘Papali,’ as Saha is sometimes called, was born in Shaktigarh, a small town in West Bengal, and brought up in Siliguri in a conventional Bengali atmosphere. Since childhood Bengalis are advised to be soft-spoken, always be on the safe side, and not take risks. This is probably why there is a dearth of Bengali entrepreneurs. Rather than setting up their own businesses, they prefer to work for someone and earn a salary at the end of the month. READ: Virat Kohli’s aggression rubs off on players, says Shikhar Dhawan

Coming from this kind of non-competitive and non-challenging  background, it is very hard for someone to excel, especially in sports. It was Ganguly who first showed the way that Bengalis also can be aggressive. They can also play fire with fire, not only in the field, but in life as well. Recently, while having a conversation with this author, Bengal’s batting consultant and CricketCountry’s Chief Cricket Mentor,  VVS Laxman emphasised on the mental aspect of the cricketers. Laxman felt the cricketers from that side of the world do not back their abilities and lack self-confidence. They are talented and work hard but they fail to reach the highest level because of low self-esteem. This is where their performances get affected and eventually they lose their place. READ: Amit Mishra returns to India squad to Sri Lanka to emulate Yasir Shah’s exploits

It is time for Saha to get rid of his ‘soft-spoken Bengali boy’ image. He needs to be more aggressive on the field and in mind. Saha is the kind of cricketer who always wants to do his job silently. It is time for him to change his approach. Aggression is good for a wicketkeeper-batsman. Saha can take a leaf out of the Bangladeshi cricketers: Mashrafe Mortaza‘s boys now have the self-belief that they can beat anyone in the world and results are coming their way. Like them, Saha has to realise he is the best person in the country to do the job at this moment. READ: VVS Laxman: India would be keen to do well in Sri Lanka

The upcoming tour of Sri Lanka will be the much-awaited break which Saha has been looking for last the six years. He has to perform on this tour to sustain his place in the Indian Test team. The likes of Naman Ojha, Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik are closing in the gap. Even KL Rahul can keep wickets. Saha’s performance will indeed be closely monitored. The three Tests against Sri Lanka will have a huge impact on his career.

Saha has earned his place in the team thanks to his patience and perseverance. He has the talent to back this up. Since childhood he has had to fight for his place at every level, whether club, state, IPL or Indian team. Luck has not been there with him on many an occasion, but the fighting spirit kept him going. The time has arrived for him to deliver, not only as a wicketkeeper but also as a No. 7 batsman. He has to believe that he belongs at this level, and be positive and the performances will automatically come.

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)