Kanpur: Stiffness in the neck did not allow India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to take the field on day five of the first Test against New Zealand here on Monday. Saha played an exceptional knock of 61 runs and remained not out on day four to put India in a strong position after the hosts lost five wickets for 51 runs.

“Wriddhiman Saha felt stiffness in his neck while keeping in the second innings. It was affecting his movement while wicket-keeping. KS Bharat will keep wickets in his absence on Day 5,” said the BCCI in a statement. Bharat, on Day 3, was exceptional with the gloves as he took some brilliant catches and stumpings. Head Coach Rahul Dravid, was aware of his keeping skills well before anyone as KS Bharat was a regular India A keeper.

It is no secret that Saha has been one of the best wicketkeepers in the world. With so much competition in the team, with keepers like MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Saha had to work really hard for his place in the team. Keeping the wickets in turning pitches in India is an art and, Saha, is a master of that art.

Saha, who played the game in place of the rested Rishabh Pant, also couldn’t keep for the majority of the first innings with Bharat proving to be an able replacement.

India set up a stiff victory target of 284 for New Zealand to win after declaring their second innings at 234 for 7 on day 4. New Zealand overnight batters Tom Latham and William Somerville are currently on crease battling it out for New Zealand at 75 for 1.

Inputs from PTI