Wriddhiman Saha catapulted into the limelight in yesterday's encounter between Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore with a sensational running catch to dismiss Mandeep Singh. The Kings XI keeper was exemplary behind the stumps and this effort made his day a special one.
It was the first ball of the 14th over with RCB struggling along at 68/3. Mandeep Singh and AB de Villiers were at the crease and the former had shown signs of accelerating when he dispatched Natarajan for a six and four off consecutive balls two overs earlier. Mandeep had just gotten into his groove when this unfolded.
Varun Aaron to Mandeep Singh
It was a short ball climbing on Mandeep, who instinctively pulled hard. The ball caught the edge of the bat and went skyward. It rocketed up and travelled back over Saha's head and looked to be heading for four.
Saha, who had watched the ball go up and behind, ran back with quickly and tried to get underneath the ball. He overran the ball initially before he realised that it was going to land behind and wider. The keeper then adjusted his footing and jumped sideways while holding the ball between his mitts to complete a screamer of a catch.
How Saha has been instrumental for Kings XI Punjab
The Indian Test wicket-keeper has been a vital cog in the Kings XI line-up. Apart from his outstanding work behind the stumps, Saha has been time and again used up the order and he has delivered.
Bought in the 2014 IPL auctions, Saha has been a constant feature in the Punjab squad. Overall, he has over 1000 runs in the Indian Premier League at an average of 25.71 with five half-centuries and one hundred.
His only hundred in the league came in the finals of the 2014 edition against Kolkata Knight Riders in a losing cause. But his temperament and maturity in that knock stood out. He slammed 115 off a mere 55 balls with eight maximums. He has since been an invaluable member for Punjab.
Yesterday, after taking a miraculous catch to get rid of Mandeep Singh, Saha went on to make some stunning saves behind the stumps. In the final over bowled by Mohit, de Villiers inside edged his first ball to Saha's left. In spite of being wrong-footed, Saha dived quickly to stop a certain boundary and did not even concede a single. It was a superlative show from the diminutive keeper.
Pointers for this campaign
Saha is someone who can play a crucial role up the order for the team. The keeper is in fine form with the willow after smacking some hundreds in Tests for India recently. Coming in behind Amla and Manan Vohra, Saha can stabilise the innings while possessing the skills to up the ante as and when required.
For a Kings XI line-up boasting of big hitters like Maxwell, Stoinis and Miller in the middle-order, Saha as an anchor is crucial. If he can carry forward his Test form for Punjab in this campaign, the opposition will have a hard time in containing a power packed Kings XI batting line-up.