Wriddhiman Saha: Bowlers need to contribute with bat too

Updated: Nov 23, 2017, 17:15 IST | Ankur Dhawan

India's recent Test success, which has seen them usurp all major nations (except Pakistan), over a two-year period, has been built around the simple principle of giving themselves the best chance to take 20 wickets

India's recent Test success, which has seen them usurp all major nations (except Pakistan), over a two-year period, has been built around the simple principle of giving themselves the best chance to take 20 wickets. A corollary of that has been the selection of a bowling quintet under Virat Kohli, instead of a sixth batsman that most of his predecessors had a predilection for.

India's Wriddhiman Saha during his 29 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata last week. Pic/AFP
India's Wriddhiman Saha during his 29 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata last week. Pic/AFP

While Kohli's insistence to play the extra bowler has worked like a charm, it has been helped by the fact that at least two of his strike bowlers and the wicketkeeper have doubled up as all-rounders. As a consequence, India have rarely lost out on potential runs that a genuine batsman may have added and the ultimate goal of dismissing the opposition twice has rarely been compromised either. Making these two ends meet without the presence of a genuine all-rounder has scripted a turnaround in their Test fortunes since the previous cycle of overseas drubbings.

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20 wickets, a must
"The main purpose is to take 20 wickets to win, so bowlers get greater preference, hence everyone is required to contribute with the bat, whether it be R Ashwin, [Ravindra] Jadeja or I, and even those bowlers who bat after us. The team management understands that to take 20 wickets you need more bowling options and that is why this has been decided," Wriddhiman Saha told reporters here.

The merit in India's methodology is further elucidated by the fact that Ashwin, Jadeja and Saha have been more than mere contributors with the bat. In fact, the three of them, forming the fulcrum of India's lower-order, have managed to bail India out of choppy waters by themselves.

Tons under pressure
When the idea was still in its infancy on the tour of West Indies, it received a boost, as Ashwin struck two hundreds under pressure. One of them came in a partnership of 213 with Saha himself. Saha and Jadeja shared a similar stand of 96 against Australia in Dharamsala, helping India secure a vital first innings lead in the series decider. In the preceding series against England, it was Ashwin and Jadeja, who teamed up in an equally important 97-run stand in Mohali.

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