Wriddhiman Saha - A silent force to reckon with in the IPL

Dev Tyagi

| Apr 29, 1:43 PM

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You cannot possibly be doubted for being in awe of Rashid Khan and Rahul Tewatia, given the way they played against the Sunrisers a couple of evenings ago. 


It was raining sixes. The white ball was dismissed into the stands everywhere. Wankhede was witness to a carnage. The weather prediction on April 27 might not have been a hot and humid day, but the contest made it even more sweltering, given the power hitting. 


Moreover, we all love a close finish in a T20 - don’t we? Perhaps even more so when it comes to the Indian Premier League, the flag bearer of entertaining T20 cricket in India. 


That game featuring Gujarat Titans and Sunrisers Hyderbad went down to the wire, the third-last delivery of the chase being a dot and the final two being creamed for sixes made it all the more fascinating. 


But while we all remember the Titans, who indeed played like titans, chased down the 196 set for victory, not much was reserved to appreciate the effort that actually got their chase underway. 


The valiance from the bat kept them in the hunt, from the beginning and well past the mid-innings. 


Before he smoked the Sunrisers Hyderabad outfit for 68 freewheeling runs, Wriddhiman Saha had just 8 fifties against his name in the IPL with a strike rate of 128. 


But after his effort against a bowling attack that comprised Marco Jansen, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Umran Malik of all speedsters - his strike rate stands touching 129. 


In that regard, how a single knock can help up the ante of one’s scoring spree is the single most valuable lesson in Wriddhiman Saha’s innings. 


Aggressive from the word go, attacking in every bit and very much until the end, Saha launched into a counter-attacking exposition of sorts. His stay at the crease was anything but brief, the right-hander holding onto an end with his bat doing the talking even after Gill had departed. 


If one wanted to ascertain the true impact of what Saha helped the Titans achieve, then it could be taking the onus on himself in the hunt for what was - well and genuinely speaking - a monumental run chase.  


It’s easy to chase a 160. Even possible and perhaps without much difficulty, to go after a 170 or 175. 


But to have 196 as target with some finest pace bowlers against you - it can be quite a task. 


In what was just his second delivery of the game, Jansen found himself whipped to the mid-wicket fence for a four by Saha. 


Within minutes, one would see a waywardly delivery pitched well onto the legs dispatched over the square leg boundary for a six. 


But this was just the beginning. A mark of true intent in Titans’ run chase was Saha dancing down to Kumar, disallowing the experienced pacer to settle down as he’d cream another four down on the on-side. 


Surely, Saha, on his part, wasn’t all power - he was elegant and wristy. The final delivery of Kumar’s first over, bowled at around middle, was nudged to the fine leg boundary. 


Gujarat were 40 in 4 overs. In such time, even Natarajan had been shown the way to the fence in a lofted stroke over covers.


But you could say the shot of the day wasn’t a powerful pull or an ostentatious lofty hit on the legs; it was the beautiful cut off the backfoot on the fifth delivery of the eighth over, bowled by Washington Sundar.


You have to be in some form if you manage to outscore someone like a Shubman Gill. When Titans notched up their fifty, thirty of those runs were thanks to Saha alone. 


He’d continue to soldier on even after Pandya departed and SRH were beginning to get a sniff of the middle order. And in ten overs, the Titans were already on 91, largely thanks to Wriddhiman Saha, whose effort ensured that his side, at least, had a shot of chasing the imposing total they’d been set. 


To sum it up, Saha’s maiden fifty of this edition also had sort of revived an IPL stint that was actually going nowhere; his 2021 returns yielding only 131 runs from nine outings with the bat. 


That he’s already put 68 from a single outing and 104 in all form three suggests marked improvement. Moreover, what’s most important, particularly from a team perspective, is that Wriddhiman Saha is peaking as his team approaches the business end of the tournament. 


While much of the flavour of the wham bam league rests with other domineering and powerful hitters of the ball, and understandably so- given there are the likes of a Russell, Warner, Pollard, Miller, Rohit, Maxwell and Pant in the tournament- perhaps it only makes sense not to cast a blind eye on Saha. 


Why would anyone want to take a talent lightly who - lest it is forgotten- has an IPL century against his name? 

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