Exclusive: Wriddhiman Saha Reveals Toughest Bowling Attack He Faced In This Year's IPL
Saha's power-play re-emergence began in IPL 2020, where he scored 214 runs and struck at 139.86 with two half-centuries
Wriddhiman Saha, the wicketkeeper-batsman for Gujarat Titans, demonstrated his power-play mastery in the match against Lucknow Super Giants by scoring an impressive 81 off 43 balls. Saha's adaptable nature has allowed him to thrive in the role of power-play enforcer for Gujarat, where he has a strike rate of 137.18 in IPL 2023. He attributes his success to his ability to hit the ball hard, selflessly and fearlessly in the power-play.
In the IPL 2023 season, every team's approach is to attack in the powerplay and get as many runs as possible in the start to get things under control. Saha was asked by a Zeenews journalist on which team or pitch he faced difficulty in attacking early in the innings right from ball one.
"I think Lucknow Super Giants because the conditions at the Ekana Stadium are difficult for batters and it always gives good support to the bowlers," said Wriddhiman Saha in a virtual interaction organised by the Gujarat Titans.
Talking about his adaptability while going through various roles in IPL Saha said, "Since childhood, I had the nature of hitting the ball hard even if the circle is up. Yes, when I started in the IPL, I was batting at number six or seven in KKR, CSK. Sometimes chances came of opening the batting or playing in the top-order. Even when I was at Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad, I played a lot of innings at the top of the order. Looking at my cricket, the team management thought that I can play selflessly and fearlessly as well as take the advantage of playing in power-play. There, the thinking of team management and my style of play matched, which has made life easy in terms of contributing for the team and helping in them doing well."
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Saha's adaptability to different roles has been evident in his IPL career, where he began as a middle-order batsman, hit a century in the IPL final while coming at number four, and now excels in the power-play. With an average of 52.16 for Tripura in the Ranji Trophy, many believe he would have been an ideal fit as K.L. Rahul's replacement in India's World Test Championship final squad. However, Saha remains focused on his IPL team, stating that he is not thinking about such matters, as they are beyond his control.
"Right now, I am playing franchise cricket, which is the IPL. So, I am thinking of my IPL team first. Regarding other things, it's not in my hand and I don't even think about it. As I am getting older and my cricketing career is almost at its last phase, when I started out playing cricket as an individual, it began out of enjoyment. As of now, that enjoyment continues to be there, be it be at domestic or IPL. Another thing is, being able to contribute to the team and enjoying doing my physical activities. I try to continue enjoying doing that. Whether the team picks me or not is a thing which will be seen later, but right now my aim is to give more than 100 per cent of my efforts."
As Saha nears the end of his cricketing career, he continues to enjoy playing the game and contributing to the team. He emphasizes the importance of being able to control the controllable elements of the game and not worry about uncontrollable factors. With a relaxed environment in the Gujarat set-up, Saha feels that team bonding and interactions have helped in delivering results on the field.
"In my playing experience, the dressing room environment of the Gujarat Titans is one of the best I have ever been in. Because of this, the team bonding and the interactions within the players are great, which helps in delivering results on the field. Plus, we can go freely and speak to anyone like Ashish Nehra, Gary Kirsten, like if someone goes to speak to them at 1-2 a.m., they will still talk to you very well. Also, on being called a youngster (in team videos), these small moments of laughter happen in team meetings. The more environment is kept light, the better we are able to deliver on the field."
Apart from his role as a power-play enforcer, Saha has also been a guiding figure to K.S. Bharat, who is expected to don the same role in the World Test Championship final. Having played in India A games in England, Saha has shared his experiences with Bharat and discussed how to enhance his keeping skills. (IPL 2023: Who Is Mukesh Kumar, Delhi Capitals Pacer And Standby Player In India's WTC Final Squad?)
Saha's power-play re-emergence began in IPL 2020, where he scored 214 runs and struck at 139.86 with two half-centuries. Although Gujarat picked him late in the mega auction, Saha waited for his turn to open and has not looked back since then. Saha credits the relaxed environment and team bonding in the Gujarat set-up for bringing out the best in everyone.
"We have been together in IPL this year only. Before that, we have been together in the Indian team camp, as well as in the India A setup. We discuss a lot of things about batting, keeping, the drills and approach to be taken, as well as in making improvements as a human being. I have spoken to Bharat on a lot of things and he's discussed with me on how his keeping was in last series and what more can be done to enhance it. When we do the drills here, he's working on his skills step-by-step and he will improve day-by-day in those areas. I haven't played a Test match for India in England, but I did play in India A games there. So, I have that experience as well as of being with the team for two-three tours, when Dhoni bhai and Rishabh (Pant) were playing. I have shared all of my experiences with Bharat. Hopefully, he contributes for the team," he concluded.