India wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha on Friday said he never found former India head coach Anil Kumble “strict”, adding incumbent Ravi Shastri always encourages them to go out there and kill the opposition.
Leg-spin legend Kumble resigned as coach before the West Indies tour after skipper Virat Kohli had raised objection over his style of coaching. Kumbe in his resignation letter had written that their relationship had become “untenable”.
“I did not feel that way. As a coach, he has to be strict in some way or the other. Some have felt he is strict, some have not. I have never felt that way under Anil bhai,” Saha told reporters on arrival from Sri Lanka where India completed a 3-0 whitewash.
Asked to differentiate between the two coaches, Saha said: “Anil bhai always wanted us to score 400, 500, 600 and the opponent will be all out by 150-200. That is not always possible. Ravi bhai always tells us to go out there hit the opponent out of the park. This is the only difference I could see. Rest both were positive all the time.”
Moving on, the three-match sweep over Sri Lankan was India’s 8th consecutive series win — with the stretch beginning over the Islanders in 2015.
Since then, India have clinched Test series against seven different opponents: South Africa (3-0), West Indies (2-0 overseas), New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0), Bangladesh (1-0), Australia (2-1) and Sri Lanka (2015 & 2017).
Asked about India’s imperious form. Saha said since their loss at Galle two years back, they have had a team meeting and that was the cornerstone to their change in fortunes.
“We lost the Galle Test. Then all the players had a meeting and we are maintaining the momentum from there. It has helped us recharge our batteries. We stuck to a plan and have been executing it so far,” the Bengal batsman noted.
On a personal note, Saha said injury kept him out the last time India won against Sri Lanka, so he is happy to be part of an historic triumph this time around.
“I did not play in the first series. In the next two I played. I could not be there during series win last time, this time I was there to witness the 3-0 whitewash. So it’s a good feeling,” he felt.
Saha played the first two Tests in 2015 and was replaced by Naman Ojha in the third as he was injured.
Since then the 32-year-old Bengal lad has improved leaps and bounds taking some exquisite catches and scoring runs too with the bat. Saha now has amasssed 1112 runs in 28 Tests with three centuries and five half centuries.
Shastri recently said he is just next to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the pecking order and one of the best keepers in the world. The coach also compared him to former England keeping great Bob Taylor.
“I have not seen Bob Taylor’s keeping. I have tried to give my best all the time. I am always ready to create a chance. I am always alert in my area,” a humble Saha said.
On his partnership with Bengal pacer Mohammed Shami, who also drew praise from Shastri, Saha said: “It’s great that Shami is continuing his aggression after coming back from injury. It is good for him and the team.
“He always creates a wicket taking opportunity. He swings the ball and gets the outside edge of the batsman. I take the catch.”
Saha said skipper Kohli bonds with the team really well and that is one sign he likes about the Delhi batsman.
“He is improving with time and his association with players has increased. We dine together and go for outings also together. He is always mingling with us which I see as a plus point in him,” he said.
That Sri Lanka’s batting temperament was weak helped India prey on them, Saha added.
“Their temperament was weak from the batting point of view which helped us. One session they held fort but we knew their patience would go up in smoke in the next session. That has helped,” he analysed.