Back to playing competitive cricket after a long injury layoff, India’s Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha says he does not consider stumper Rishabh Pant as a rival and is happy at the youngster’s success.
“I don’t see him as my competitor. I have never regarded anyone as a competitor since the time I was a child. It’s not that I have to better him and I am not getting a chance because he is there. My job is to play to the best of my potential and keep performing. I have always done that and kept waiting for my chance,” Saha told IANS in an interview.
Praising the 21-year old who is now making a case for himself across formats, Saha said Pant has proved himself since making his debut.
“He is very good. He has a lot of potential and has done reasonably well since getting a look in. If he wasn’t good enough, he would not be getting runs in the IPL or would not have come in the reckoning.”
Saha picked up a thumb injury on May 25 last year during an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders which ruled him out of the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June.
Later, Saha was diagnosed with a career-threatening injury for which he underwent surgery on his right shoulder in Manchester.
In the meantime, Pant grabbed the opportunity with both hands by scoring hundreds in England and Australia and averaging almost 50 in nine tests.
According to experts, Pant is still not at the same level as Saha behind the stumps with the former’s glovework still a work in progress.
Asked about his India comeback plans now that Pant has made life difficult for the 34-year old, Saha said he can only let his performances do the talking and leave the selection to the team management.
“I am not thinking about my comeback to the national side just yet. There is the IPL and the World Cup. India play tests only in July so there is no point thinking about it now.
“My job is to do well. Selection is not in my hands,” he said.
India’s next Test assignment will only be after the World Cup when they visit the West Indies for a two-Test series in July.
Saha said he is looking to make the most of the opportunities with the Bengal team in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 domestic tournament.
“I am match fit and ready to play T20 cricket. That is why NCA (National Cricket Academy) allowed me to be part of the Bengal team.”
At the NCA, Saha was put on a rehab programme under former India wicketkeepers Vijay Yadav and Ajay Ratra.
“I am looking to help my team do well in the tournament and contribute in the best possible manner. I am not playing with a target in mind. I will take it match by match,” Saha said.
Bengal will open their campaign against Mizoram in their Group D fixture in Cuttack on February 21.
The 2010-11 champions have been clubbed with Mizoram, Karnataka, Assam, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha in Group D.
Saha also spoke on India’s chances in the upcoming World Cup, rating Virat Kohli and Co as one of the pre-tournament favourites owing to their recent exploits.
“I think the side is very balanced. The pacers are doing so well, spinners are picking up key wickets and the batting now looks settled too. (MS) Dhoni bhai is looking as good as ever. I would rate them as one of the favourites,” Saha concluded.