Wriddhiman Saha proves to be most efficient wicketkeeper to pace bowling

Wriddhiman Saha with the catch to dismiss Aiden Markram. (Source: Twitter/@BCCI)

Wriddhiman Saha showed in three specific moments in the ongoing second Test against South Africa in Pune why India skipper Virat Kohli had hailed him as the "best wicketkeeper in the world at the moment" before this series.

One of those moments came on Sunday morning again, when he took an outstanding left-handed catch to dismiss Theunis de Bruyn off Umesh Yadav's delivery in the second innings after South Africa were forced to follow on India's lead of 326 runs.

That catch piled up the pressure on the visitors as they went down to 21/2 in just 5.4 overs, with the first to go was Aiden Markram. The opener was trapped in the second ball of the innings by Ishant Sharma.

Before that, on Saturday morning, the 34-year-old provided another blinder when he leaped to his right to take the catch of de Bruyn.

The other moment - a more low-key moment because no wicket fell - came about in the evening session of Day 2 on Friday.

Saha showed tremendous athleticism and instinct to take a diving one-handed catch to his left. Everybody was left stunned by the catch - including bowler Umesh Yadav, who momentarily forgot to appeal, and the umpires, who referred the decision to the third umpire.

Replays showed that the batsman, Temba Bavuma, would survive because the ball had bumped off the ground after hitting his bat.

However, the catch by Saha was probably the best catch in the match - more so because he had been blinded by Bavuma and had taken the catch mostly by instinct. Most other keepers in the world would probably have conceded four byes.

These two catches - both off Umesh Yadav - underline how successful Saha has been behind the India stumps over the last few years. According to a statistical analysis, Saha is the most efficient catcher to pacers in Tests since 2017.

Saha successfully takes a catch 96.9% times a batsman nicks it behind the stumps. He is followed by Sri Lanka’s Niroshan Dickwella on this list, who pouches 95.5% of the catches that come his way. Rishabh Pant is ninth on this list - with an efficiency of 91.6%.

Saha, who will turn 35 later this month, has a total of 77 catches and 10 stumpings to his name in 33 Tests.