'We always observe each other's wicket-keeping. We work hard in our practice sessions and have a good understanding and co-ordination among ourselves. We always try to point out each other's mistakes. It's been going well so far'
The cut-throat competition for a place in India's playing XI has not affected Wriddhiman Saha's relationship with his understudy Rishabh Pant, the former stated on Friday.
Saha was out of the Indian team for 20 months due to a shoulder surgery but is now back to his best as a keeper, having taken some stunning catches in the recently concluded second Test against South Africa in Pune.
Six days short of his 35th birthday, the sprightly Saha is often seen helping Pant with keeping drills after his own training, something that has been directed by the team management.
Ask him if he is mentoring Pant and the ever-reticent Saha replied in the negative.
"There's nothing (mentoring) like that. We just discuss normally the way the wicketkeepers discuss. With Sridhar and Pant, we three jointly decide on how to go about our wicketkeeping on a particular type of wicket," he said.
"We always observe each other's wicket-keeping. We work hard in our practice sessions and have a good understanding and co-ordination among ourselves. We always try to point out each other's mistakes. It's been going well so far," he said.
"I was just trying to have a feel of the bounce off the wicket. So I stood behind Kohli. It definitely helps."
While his keeping has been rated as the best in world cricket, even BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly has spoken about the need to improve on his batting averages.
"Whoever plays in the team wants to contribute. As a wicket-keeper, I look to get some time in the middle and if I get time I try to build a partnership and score a fifty or so. Everyone tries like that. Sometime it works, sometime it does not," Saha said.
Saha pointed out that he has a century at the same venue in the only other Test JSCA International Stadium hosted -- a draw against Australia in March 2017.
"I have good memory of the last match. I made 117 in the last match. I remember how I approached the innings. I also remember the Steve Smith incident. If you see we drew it last time. We are 2-0 up in the series so this time we will try to make it 3-0 this time," he concluded.
Wicket-keeping is a "thankless" job contrary to popular perception that anyone wearing a pair of gloves should catch every ball that comes his way, Saha said.
"It's tough everywhere. Wicket-keeping is a thankless job and people think that he should take all the ball since he's wearing a pair of gloves. It's not easy like that, especially on a track with uneven bounce and turn. We prepare according to the wicket," he said.
Asked about the acrobatic take down the leg-side off Umesh Yadav's bowling, Saha said: "Everyone wants to contribute to the team. He (Yadav) did very well in the first innings and created a lot of chances. Luckily, I was able to take the chances he created on the leg side. I always think of helping to the team's cause. It always feels good when you contribute to the team's winning cause."
Before the South Africa series, Saha last figured for India in the Cape Town Test played way back in January 2018 and was later side-lined after a shoulder injury.
"I was out for a long time because of injury. I got a chance only after performing in the domestic and India A matches. I always continued the same preparation for batting and wicket-keeping and finally got and opportunity. I'm really happy to have contributed to the team," Saha, who made a comeback in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s earlier this year, said.