Exclusive Interview: The biggest challenge is always to win an away Test series - Wriddhiman Saha

India’s first-choice Test wicketkeeper – Wriddhiman Saha – opens up on a range of topics, from inheriting MS Dhoni’s big gloves to India’s long overseas season ahead.

India’s remarkable home run: The team has been doing well for last 2 years. The main reason for that is that everybody is contributing in their roles. Individually, whatever opportunity I received I have tried to make it count.

On ‘replacing’ MS Dhoni as India’s Test wicketkeeper: I didn’t replace Dhoni. He quit Tests and that’s why I made it into the team. Earlier, my confidence was not too high because I used to get a match and then not play for a long time. This was not the ideal situation. Now that I am playing for India consistently I have had the chance to work on my game at the highest level.

On Kohli and Ganguly calling him the best Test ‘keeper’ in the world: Everybody enjoys compliments, especially when they come from such big players. I want to ensure I live up to their expectations.

Secret behind India’s prolific lower middle order: When the lower order wags it can take the team score from 300 to 400. Our intention is to make sure there are a lot of partnerships so we can maximize the team total and frustrate the opposition.

His ‘keeping’ to pacers and spinners: I always follow the basics and strive to stay focused on every ball. When you’re wicketkeeping you cannot relax for even a single ball. Sometimes when there is a long partnership, I know I have to maintain my concentration and keep believing that a catch can come my way on any and every ball.

Difference between keeping to Jadeja and Ashwin: Ashwin mixes it up – he can bowl both quicker and slower. But Jadeja usually bowls faster and darts it into the batsman. I practice keeping against them both to stay on my toes.

On advising bowlers: Yes, we keep talking about how to outwit a batsman – whether we should lure him to play a shot or if we should attack him by closing in the field.

Take on sledging: Cricket these days is so competitive that it’s natural for people to sledge. Some do it more than others. It’s an individual’s choice how he chooses to react. If you react adversely it can be bad for the team.  Sledging ‘toh chalta rehta he’. It actually works at times in softening a batsman.

Sri Lanka’s Delhi’s pollution tactics: The conditions were not ideal, but it was not anything that should have stopped play. We (India) were all trying to play normally. Even the crowd was sitting and watching the match without any problems. We definitely thought the Sri Lankan team was up to some tricks.

Preparation for the overseas season: Wicket-keeping overseas is easier because the bounce is ideal. It’s tougher to keep in low bounce conditions. I’m practising keeping that in mind.

India’s chances in South Africa: Everybody is strong at home and so is South Africa. The biggest challenge is always to win an away Test series, like England beat us in 2012. It won’t be easy for us (in South Africa). But we have prepared well and I hope we get the results.

Originally published on Yahoo India on January 3, 2018