India's Wriddhiman Saha celebrates after reaching his hundred against Australia on Day Four of the Ranchi Test yesterday. Pic/AFP
Ranchi: Just over a month ago, there were doubts if Wriddhiman Saha would get back his place in the Indian side after his replacement Parthiv Patel did a wonderful job with bat and the big gloves in the last three Tests against England in 2016. Opinions were divided and naturally Saha felt the pressure, like he perhaps did yesterday morning with India trailing Australia by 141 in the first innings, with only four wickets in hand.
Two months ago, Saha answered his critics with a match-winning century in the Irani Cup and retained his place in the Test team. He did it again in Ranchi yesterday, albeit in a far more testing setting and against a quality bowling line-up. Saha has now scored three Test hundreds in 24 matches.
Everything about his batting is simple. He has a low back lift, a minor movement across his crease, a small forward press and an extremely still head. When he starts his innings, he can be frantic. He likes to step out of his crease, looking for a run even if the ball is hit straight to the fielder. He is restless whenever he connects the ball and sometimes he even tries an over-ambitious shot. But once the nerves are settled, he is as calm as they come.
The best part about Saha is that he knows his game inside out. Earlier on Day Four, when he played across the line and was given out leg-before, only to be overturned by the Decision Review System, Saha was quick to correct his mistake. From then on, instead of planting his front toe towards cover, he was placing it inside the line or towards mid-off.
That was the closest Australia came to dismissing the little man. As for the next 187 balls, he barely played a false stroke. He defended with intent and deflected the ball into gaps with a purpose as he made 117 from 233 balls.
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