A back-of-a-length delivery from Umesh Yadav outside off to right-hander Theunis de Bruyn. Edged! First slip is ready to welcome the easy offering. Hold on. Wriddhiman Saha flies in to snatch the catch.
It was a sight to behold in the Pune Test against the struggling South Africans.
Saha announced his comeback loud and clear with 11 catches and a stumping in India whites against South Africa after a 21-month gap. Fit and smooth as wine, age doesn’t seem to be a factor for the gloveman. He turned 35 a day after appearing in his 35th Test for India. In a chat with Sportstar, India’s Test stumper tells us more on the effort that led to his comeback.
How does the body feel after three consecutive Test matches? It’s been a long gap…
In Test cricket, you have to dominate in batting, bowling as well as fielding in every session. It feels good because we dominated. It feels great that I was part of the series win.
You’ve been monitored and trained by Ajay Ratra, Abhay Sharma and Vijay Yadav among others while you were recovering at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) from a shoulder injury. Those were tough days…
Everybody had their own inputs and I tried to apply them whenever I could. The drills I did before the injury were a bit different. Before my comeback, my training involved working with different people who put in their best to help me out. Ajay Ratra came in between his work to help me. Abhay bhai was always there, then Vijay Yadav. Kiran More had come for a camp at the NCA where he had a word with me. All of them tried their best to help me in their own way. I did all that was required to come back to international cricket.
Your training with Abhay Sharma involved a lot of dives…
Yes. After everything was done and I was on the verge of being cleared, diving was the main issue. If I dived one day, my shoulder would become tight and my hands wouldn’t move swiftly for the next two days. Abhay bhai helped me step by step to get back to normal.
He also keeps saying that collecting the ball behind the body is a better idea…
Everyone has their own style. If you allow the ball behind the body, you need to follow the ball closely.
How tough is it to dismiss injury fears after making a comeback from a series of injuries? Also, did you feel scared at any point during the rehab?
It was there initially when I started the rehab in Bengaluru. But it was fine once I got the clearance after recovering fully. Mentally, I got rid of it as soon as the body started responding well to the training. After working so much on the shoulder over a period of time, I don’t feel scared any more.
That ball impact that troubled your thumb in the Ranchi Test was a minor one, we hear…
Yes. I had just gone for icing, so Rishabh [Pant] kept wickets for sometime. But I came back and kept wickets the next day.
Does the mode of training change a bit with age? Is age a concern for a wicketkeeper?
Ever since I started playing, I took training very seriously. But it was different then, and it is different now. The requirements change. I do things that are required to remain fit to play international cricket. Fitness makes all the difference.
Recently, Board of Control for Cricket in India chief Sourav Ganguly said that in order to play longer for India, Wriddhiman needs to score more runs with the bat. Are you working separately on your batting?
Nobody would polish one part of his skill set and ignore the other. I want to put equal attention to both ’keeping and batting. I got chances in the two Tests almost during the time of declaration. I could have done things differently, but I played to the situation. Whenever I have got a chance to bat, either the team is at 450/5 or 300/5 and at times 100/5. It depends on the situation when I walk in.
Did coach Ravi Shastri offer any tip on batting?
Ravi bhai didn’t want to change anything. Ultimately, you need to score runs and that is the only thing that matters. It all depends on how you convert.
You are an old friend of Mohammed Shami. He’s been in great rhythm, too…
No doubt he is a great bowler. Had he not been good, he couldn’t have come back from the knee injury.
The team believed in him and it was for that belief he could turn things around in his career. Belief can make any player perform to his best.
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