Ranchi: Wriddhiman Saha scored the third century of his Test career to help India go past Australia in the first innings and slowly inch to a commanding position on the fourth day of the Ranchi Test.
Resuming on his overnight score of 18, Saha played a gutsy innings to show yet again that he is not just a fine wicketkeeper but also more than a handy batsman when the situation calls for it. Saha took 214 balls to reach this mark with seven boundaries and a huge six over midwicket off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. Saha’s biggest achievement apart from scoring his hundred was eating up both Australian reviews. All his three centuries so far have come in this season with the two previous knocks contributing to eventual wins.
The first had come against West Indies in the St Lucia Test last August. Saha had walked in with India on 126/5 in the first innings to score a 227-ball 104 and feature in a 213-run partnership with R Ashwin. India went on to win that match by 237 runs.
Saha’s second century, an unbeaten 106, came in Hyderabad this February against Bangladesh as India piled up 687 in the first innings and went on to win the Test by 208 runs. This century too came at a time Cheteshwar Pujara was looking for a partner to take India past Australia’s first innings score of 451.
It wasn’t easy for Saha though. Subjected to a barrage of bouncers and a fair bit of verbal volleys from Australia, Saha was slow to start with and often looked in unease. He could have dismissed in the second over of the day when Pat Cummins proved too quick for him with a delivery that moved in to hit his pad. Given out by the umpire, Saha however chose to review it and thankfully for him, the ball was looking to miss leg.
Saha was again given a life just before lunch when wicketkeeper Matthew Wade failed to hold on to a edge off Steve O’Keefe’s delivery. He continued to be either pegged back by the pacers or drawn into a false shot by the spinners but to Saha’s credit, he continued to put a price on his wicket.
With the Australians slowly getting frustrated, Saha began to unleash his shots in the post-lunch session, first by driving Cummins behind point for a boundary before placing him again through covers. The miscued shots were still coming but Saha ran well with Pujara otherwise to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Saha was one run away from his hundred when tea was called but he took only one ball after that to complete the honours with a single off Glenn Maxwell to square-leg.