In a major development, main goalkeeper Wriddhiman Saha has opted out of Bengal’s Ranji Trophy campaign after being told categorically that he will not be picked for India’s two-match test series against Sri Lanka, which will start in Mohali on March 4.
The new team management is understood to have conveyed to the national team that the 37-year-old Saha, regarded as one of the best gloves in the world, is not one for the future.
Rishabh pants He has already been confirmed as preferred goalkeeper for years to come and Kona Bharat showed some great glove work at Kanpur Test against New Zealand.
“Influential people in the team management have told Wriddhiman adamantly that they want to go ahead and create some new backs along with Rishabh Pant,” a senior BCCI source privy to the developments told PTI on condition of anonymity.
“It was explained to him that he will not be chosen for the Sri Lanka Tests as it is time for Kona to get their share of exposure with the senior team.
“That may be the reason, Wriddhiman had informed Bengal Cricket Association President Abhishek Dalmiya and Joint Secretary Snehasish Ganguly that he would not be playing for the Ranji Trophy this season for ‘personal reasons’.
“That’s why the selectors didn’t pick him because he wasn’t available for selection,” the source added.
The Bengal selection committee, headed by Subhamoy Das, on the day named a 22-member squad, including two wicketkeeper batsmen, Abhishek Porel and Shakir Habib Gandhi, for the group stage of the league.
“During the meeting, Selectors Chairman Subhamoy asked Senior Selection Committee Secretary and Coordinator Snehasish Ganguly about Wriddhi’s availability. They said that Wriddhi has advised that he should not be considered for Bengal for the Ranji Trophy for the season. He was a bit strange,” said a source close to the Bengal team management.
It was learned that Saha, who is not part of India’s white ball setup, also did not attend a single session of the Bengal Ranji Trophy pre-season camp.
“It is understandable that if he is not going to play for India in Tests anymore, then why would he have motivation to play Ranji Trophy after playing 40 Tests?
“While he may feel down, but at 37 1/2 years old, it’s only natural that team management doesn’t want him as Pant’s backup,” he said.
Saha has played 40 Tests and scored 1353 runs with three hundred and an average of less than 30 which became his undoing. However, he had 104 layoffs behind stumps, 92 receptions and 12 stumps.