What’s the story?
Wriddhiman Saha’s brilliant hundred on the penultimate day of the third Test match between India and Australia has earned him a fan in the form of former Australian captain Michael Clarke. Speaking to The Telegraph on the final day of the Test match in Ranchi, Clarke opined that Saha’s approach is somewhat similar to former Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Ian Healy.
Clarke said, "Yeah, his approach is a bit similar (to that of Healy). He's a busy player. He was really good yesterday. Just fantastic. I was telling Matthew Hayden that Saha's going to get runs when I saw the way he went about on Saturday itself. He has certainly gone up the ranks."
The World Cup-winning captain also heaped praise on double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara. “Unbelievable! Pujara was simply unbelievable,” he said, “It's (Pujara’s technique) absolutely brilliant. You don't need to be flamboyant in Test cricket. You just need to do your job, which is scoring runs. And he's doing so perfectly. That's it."
During the third Test match, Pujara and Saha’s resolute partnership of 199 runs for the eighth wicket put India in the driving seat. While Pujara played a marathon innings, scoring 202 runs, Saha was equally exquisite in his innings of 117. This steered India to a mammoth total of 603 and handed them a 152-run lead over the Aussies.
The heart of the matter
Surprisingly, this was only Saha’s third century in Test cricket. Batsmen at number seven or number eight do not always have the chance to score a century but when they do get the opportunity, they will have to take it with both hands and that’s what Saha did. The Bengal wicket-keeper batsman forged a massive partnership with Pujara to take the game out of Australia’s grasp.
Former Australian ‘keeper Ian Healy was known for his work ethic and combativeness. He too scored his first century in Test cricket late in his career and would go on to score three more. It wasn’t surprising at all that Clarke found similarities between Healy and Saha.
The fourth and final Test between India and Australia will be played in Dharamsala from 25-29th March. With the series tied at 1-1, both the teams have everything to play for and the match should be very exciting.
Saha’s contribution to the Indian team since Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from Test cricket has largely been overshadowed by the other batsmen in the Indian batting line-up. This particular innings should play a big role in changing that notion. Praise coming from the opposition camp always boosts a player’s confidence.
As for Pujara, he has been Indian cricket’s unheralded hero for a long time and it is good to see that he is finally getting the praise that he deserves.