Bangalore: The last time that he was part of an Indian camp, back in 2008, also in Bangalore, Anil Kumble, the captain, was in charge and had thus chosen to introduce something to the net sessions he had for long, longed to.
Test captain Virat Kohli with coach Anil Kumble during the preparatory camp at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore yesterday. Pic/PTI
Nothing has changed in the interim as Kumble, now in the avatar of coach, but still very much in charge, showed with his ‘tactics’ at the nets on Day 3 of the Indian preparatory camp ahead of the four-Test tour of the West Indies.
At exactly 10 am, the usual start time to a Test match day, the first two players to walk out with their batting gear on were not the opening batsmen but two pacers, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, joined sometime later by Mohammed Shami. A big believer in the tail contributing those extra 40-50 runs, Kumble had explained back in 2008 that it was only fair that the bowlers got enough practice with the bat in the nets if they were expected to score in the matches.
True to that line of thought, for nearly 30 minutes, both Ishant and Yadav faced up to Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy bowlers, bringing back memories of the first Test against Australia in 2008 when Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh had batted time and ensured a draw for the Indians, who then went on to win the series. All the bowlers in that camp, Kumble included, had batting stints every day, and it paid off. And those were the days the Indians usually played with seven batsmen and four bowlers, something that Virat Kohli has shown he is averse to. The present Indian Test captain prefers to play five full bowlers and so it becomes even more important that the bowlers are prepared to bat too.
Wriddhiman Saha couldn’t agree more. "I feel good batting with the lower order because in that situation whatever 30-40-50 crucial runs that comes, it is very helpful for the team. Even if every bowler contributes 15-20, the team can make a big score," said Saha at a media interaction.
Bangalore: Wriddhiman Saha’s orthodoxy, both with the big gloves and the bat, is in stark contrast to that of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the man he’s replaced as India’s wicketkeeper-batsman. Dhoni had his tricks behind the stumps and was most unique with his approach in front of them, which just makes Saha’s already tough task harder.
Dhoni, though, has told Saha not to try and emulate him even if he could. "He (Dhoni) keeps telling me whatever your natural technique is, just keep working on that. A little bit of fine-tuning you can try doing and see. But it is not compulsory to change anything," explained Saha of Dhoni’s advice.
"To fill Dhoni’s boots isn’t an easy task. He played for India for many years, and was a match-winner for India. I will try and reach my potential and help the team, with the bat in vital situations and by taking catches behind the stumps," Saha said.