Prepared myself watching Hussey, Dhoni knocks: Saha

Opening bat says facing Shami eased him up

Chennai 28 April 2013
With the kind of firepower the Chennai Super Kings boast of, Wriddhiman Saha had to wait for eight matches before he got a game in IPL 2013. And when he did, he was asked to do what he had never done before in the IPL – open the batting.

Saha grabbed the opportunity and made it count. Against defending champions, Kolkata Knight Riders, Saha came up with a 23-ball 39 cameo and more importantly stitched a match-winning 103-run opening stand with the ever so consistent ‘Mr Cricket’, Michael Hussey (95).

At the end of the match, Saha, in a chat with spoke about his mental preparation ahead of his first game of the season and the contribution of his Bengal team-mate Mohammad Shami – who opened the bowling for KKR in the game – in easing him into the innings.

This was your first game this IPL season. How was it to finally feel the pressure of a tight match and not watch it from the sidelines?

In IPL games can change in an over or two. You need to be consistent and the intensity has to be very high. This season I have watched CSK play out many close games from the dugout. To be on the field this time was a great experience. From the outside you can relax if you want to but on the field there’s no scope.

You must have been practising your skills in the nets. But what do you do to prepare mentally to come out and succeed in a match-situation?

You can practise all you want but in a match situation things don’t pan out as per your planning. In the nets you can hit any shot and you can still bat on but one bad shot in a match can end it for you. It’s important to prepare mentally before a game. I did it by watching the knocks of Michael Hussey and MS Dhoni from the last match and visualised myself doing the same.

Were you happy or nervous when you knew that CSK was batting first?

I had never opened the batting before this in the IPL. I was sent in with the instruction to enjoy myself. I tried to do that and it paid off to a certain extent.

What did you learn while batting with Mike Hussey?

Batting with him made my life easier. He’s such an outstanding player that a boundary is always around the corner. There was hardly any pressure on me. I just hit the ball I thought I could hit. I learnt a lot in terms of how he prepares mentally for every ball, what shot he plays in which situations. He knows well how to score runs based on his areas of strength.

You’re not used to playing against a team from Kolkata, are you? You often play for them.

It doesn’t matter that I am playing against a team from the city I belong to. I play for CSK now and I have forgotten KKR. They are the enemies now (smiles).

With the Indian team and CSK team do you work more on your fielding skills than wicket-keeping?

Yes, I don’t get many opportunities to keep wickets with Dhoni in the team. So, I have to play as a fielder. The good thing is that my fielding has always been good since I was a kid. Honestly, it doesn’t make much difference to me whether I am keeping or fielding. Yes, as a keeper more number of balls come to you. But in the end even as a fielder you have to watch every ball and be alert as any ball can come your way.

You hit Shami for two fours and a six in the first over. Were you relieved to see him bowling to you first up, knowing his game well?

It was definitely an advantage. We play together for Bengal and so I knew what length he bowls more in the shorter formats. The over panned out exactly the way I guessed it would. That over really helped me ease into the innings and gave me the initial confidence that was needed.

Kallis fired in some short balls but you hit them well. Were you prepared for the short-ball attack?

Yes, the overseas bowlers always tend to bowl short to the Indians. Whatever I have seen of Kallis, he generally bowled back of a length. So I was ready for those short balls. I hit a straight six and also played the pull shot a couple of times. 
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