Kolkata: India Test cricketer Wriddhiman Saha has said he's relishing every bit of wicket-keeping against wily Afghanistani leg-spinner Rashid Khan in the IPL, something that has boosted his confidence.
The Afghanistan wrist spinner Khan is currently ranked world number one in T20 format, number 2 in ODIs. He recently became the fastest to take 100 ODI wickets.
The SRH wicketkeeper batsman, Saha praised team-mate Khan after his side's facile five-wicket win over KKR here on Saturday night.
"After a long time I'm getting an opportunity to keep against a bowler like Rashid. It's a good experience, he has got pace and turn," Saha told reporters.
"In recent times, I've been keeping against the likes of Ashwin, Jadeja, Mishra or Kuldeep. Now after keeping against Rashid, I'm more confident," he said of Rashid who was retained by SRH at this year's auctions for Rs 9 crore using right to match card.
Brilliant at death as well as in the Powerplay, the 19-year-old Khan is a hot property in the T20 franchise leagues around the world and has been hugely influential in his nation's rise from an ICC Associate level team to a get a full member status.
"He bowls consistently well. In T20s you don't get to keep much against a particular bowler but those are all vital. I'm trying my best to do well," Saha said.
"It's most about his pace variations. He bowls leg spin and mixes it up with a lot of googlies. With such a quick arm action, it's very difficult for batsmen to read them. You can say that as his strength," Saha added.
Backed by yet another stunning bowling display and neat fielding, SRH restricted KKR to a modest 138/8 and in reply they struggled before skipper Kane Williamson's half century in a 59-run stand with Shakib Al Hasan sealed a five-wicket win.
"The wicket (at Eden Gardens) was a bit double-paced. During bowling only it was apparent. Initial start was good but lost a few wickets," Saha said.
It was their third win from as many matches as SRH maintained their top spot in the table.
"Our target is to go match by match, and we are looking in that direction only. I've been given a new role to open and asked to play with freedom. I'm trying that only. Overall it was a complete team performance, we did well in batting and bowling," he said.
Smarting from their defeat against RCB, KKR made three changes to their team and gave maiden IPL caps to Under-19 World Cup winning duo of Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi.
But none of them could make an impact, thanks to some seemingly flawed strategy that saw a top-order batsman Gill bat at No. 7, while pacer Mavi came to bowl only in the 15th over when the target had been reduced to 37 runs from 36 balls.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik, however, said there was nothing wrong in their strategy.
"Look, as a team we understand he is a top order batsman. But you got to understand the dynamics of the team as well," Karthik said of Gill.
"With Robin (Uthappa), Nitish (Rana) and myself there, we thought we'll send him in a middle order role where he doesn't need to go and build an innings and just express himself. It is going to be a little hard at this stage to send him to bat higher up the order. He is happy to bat at this spot where he did."
On Mavi not bowling in the Powerplay, he said: "At that stage the spinners were bowling so well I could see they were a better wicket-taking option than the fast bowlers. It was coming on to the bat a lot better but for the spinners it was holding up and the chance of a wicket (was more) so I was trying to utilise that."
KKR's move to bring an in-form opener Sunil Narine down the order also did not work and Karthik said they would not be opening with him throughout the season.
"It's a bit of a mix and match. We decided to start off the season, we won't be sending Sunil to open throughout. At times we want to use him as a floater. They have a couple of good spinners so we had that as a plan and we used it," the KKR skipper said.
He said KKR would hope to avoid a third loss on the trot when they take on a resurgent Delhi here on Monday.
Counting on the positives, Karthik said: "I think the spinners bowled beautifully. After the CSK game, the way they have come back, all three bowled well for us so I am very happy with way the spinners bowled."