Saha confident of good performance in NZ series

Guwahati: Wriddhiman Saha got his maiden Test cap for India by fluke, but the wicketkeeper, who has been picked for the first two ODIs against New Zealand in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, said he would prove his mettle in both departments of the game to cement his place in the side.

A last-minute injury to Rohit Sharma had handed Saha an unexpected Test debut earlier this year against South Africa. Even for the New Zealand series starting tomorrow, he has been picked after Dhoni was given a break.

Picked ahead of the more experienced Dinesh Karthik for the next two ODIs and for the away Test series against South Africa, the Bengal player, who is fresh from a brilliant 178 not out against Assam in a record 417-run stand with Laxmi Ratan Shukla, is not under any pressure.

Talking to reporters after arriving here for the five-ODI series opener, Saha said, "Hopefully, I can contribute in both the departments (wicket-keeping and batting) of the game and help the team win the first two ODIs."

His national call might mean that the selectors see Saha as the second choice wicketkeeper after skipper Dhoni but the unassuming Siliguri lad did not want to think of the quadrennial extravaganza scheduled from February.

"Honestly I`m not thinking about the World Cup at the moment. I don`t want to lose focus and don`t want to think much. The idea is to stay pressure-free. My job now is to perform in the first two matches," Saha said.

Asked whether he would like to concentrate more on batting, Saha said, "Keeping the wickets will be my main job. Obviously, I have to to contribute with the bat as well depending on the team situation. I would look to improvise." Saha received the `unexpected` call for the national duty on the day Bengal conceded the first innings lead to minnows Assam despite his career-best first-class effort.

"I was upset that day and was busy with other things when I got the call. It was a great moment. To represent the country is obviously the dream of every sportsperson."

"As a kid, every aspiring cricketer wanted to become like Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid). I`m no exception. It feels really satisfying that I`ve made this level."

The Team India superstars including Tendulkar have not been included in the first two matches, but Saha said the side has the experience of Yuvraj Singh.

"It`s a young bunch, I`m sure we will do well. I`ve played with as well against these youngsters. It all depends on how we apply on the field," Saha, who is all set to make his ODI debut on Sunday, said.

The 26-year-old rated the Kiwis a better side in one-dayers than the Tests.

"They are a better side in one-dayers than Test matches. It really will be a competitive series," he said.

Picked for Bengal after Deep Dasgupta switched allegiance to ICL, Saha began his career in style, with a hundred on Ranji debut against Hyderabad in 2007.

But it was during the inaugural IPL that he came to prominence.