India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha on Monday heaped praise on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, stating that the tweaker posed a challenge for him to keep behind the stumps, but maintained that the Tamil Nadu star was ahead of others for the number of variations he had at his disposal.
“Ashwin is ahead of others,” Saha said while speaking to reporters ahead of India’s first Test against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. “He has got many variations, also the length varies, so it’s tough against him. He has more variation than (Ravindra) Jadeja, Kuldeep (Yadav).
India boast of three spinners – Ashwin, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav – all are very different from each other.
Ashwin and Jadeja will be back in the India fold after a lengthy spell away after being rested during the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
Saha, who is part of the Indian team only in the longer format, is looking forward to keeping stumps to the two, who are resuming their national team service.
“We have played many matches in Ranji, India A and during practice,” Saha said. “The more you keep, the better idea you develop. It becomes easier after a point. I’ve always played with them in all my 28 Tests.”
“Your 50 per cent job is done mainly by reading the hand at the point of release then you see how it bounces off the pitch and turns. The challenge is to hold on to all the balls, even if it turns or not,” he added.
Asked whether they would play three spinners, he said: “Ultimately we will decide as per the wicket and see who gets maximum purchase from the wicket.”
Among the pacers, Saha picked Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as the seam bowlers who pose a bigger challenge than swing.
“The ball wobbles after it goes past and it becomes tough for the wicketkeepers too. But being swing bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar there’s not much of a problem.”
Aiming for win at Eden Gardens
Saha said the team is looking to hit the ground running in the three-Test series with a win at the Eden Gardens.
“We are yet to see the wicket but the first target is to win the first Test and get momentum to win the series,” Saha said after Indian team’s first practice session ahead of the opening Test against Sri Lanka here from November 16.
Not looking too far ahead of the South Africa series, beginning with Cape Town Test on January 6, Saha said it was about taking it match by match.
“Every match is important and poses a different challenge, there’s nothing like preparation. We will go match by match. If we do better here then we will think of the SA series.”
He may have stepped down from the captaincy, but MS Dhoni is still seen overseeing the fielding in ODIs from behind the stumps and Saha said he also gives his inputs to the captain.
“The team management has decided that anyone can give a feedback. Kohli is usually in the slip cordon so I convey my inputs. But the ultimate decision is of the captain.”
He added the drill is the same during a decision review.
“It’s about being confident and conveying it to the captain. You should never have any doubt,” he said.