Wriddhiman Saha scored a brilliant century in the IPL 2014 final for KXIP. Â© BCCI
Even as Kolkata Knight Riders celebrated their second Indian Premier League victory in three years at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday, neither the West Bengal government nor the Cricket Association of Bengal forgot another son of the soil who played a heroic role in Sunday's IPL final at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Wriddhiman Saha became the first man to score a century in an IPL final but his knock went in vain for Kings XI Punjab, who lost a thriller to Kolkata by three wickets. Irrespective of the outcome, Bengal has decided to give Saha a richly-deserved reception soon.
Saha, who will be part of the Indian team to play the three ODIs against Bangladesh later this month, smashed an unbeaten 115 off 55 balls to enable Kings XI Punjab post a formidable 199 for four. It were just not the runs but Saha's ability to adapt to every batting position and perform under pressure that stood out.
Saha said it was his discipline and consistency that is helping him achieve good results. "If I keep on performing the way I've been doing lately, I won't have a mountain to climb. If I'm consistent and remain disciplined, I think earning a national team berth will never be an arduous job," Saha said.
With a busy cricket season coming up, the national selectors are obviously looking at a No. 2 to skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. With Dinesh Karthik failing to set the IPL on fire for Delhi Daredevils and Parthiv Patel doing precious little for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Saha was an automatic choice for the tours of Bangladesh and England.
Saha displayed an amazing ability to pace his innings during the IPL. The low-profile Bengal wicket-keeper-batsman showed a cool head, solid technique and an ability to stand up to a challenge. In a team that had such powerful hitters like a Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, Saha was indeed Punjab's Man Friday.
Taking of his century in the IPL final, Saha said: "Honestly, there wasn't any special planning from my part just because we were playing a final. My goal was plain and simple. I just wanted to get as many runs as possible till the time I was at the crease."
Many consider the 29-year-old diminutive Saha to be a better keeper than Dhoni. But one thing was clear in the IPL - Saha was not in awe of big names like Sunil Narine or Morne Morkel. He played spin and pace with equal confidence and that's where his technique helped.
"All I did was backing myself to play the shots I'm comfortable with. I kept focusing on my strength and treated the balls as per their merit. Even when I faced someone like Dale Steyn, my approach was the same," Saha explained.