|| CF DESK ||
The first question Rahul Dravid was asked during the post-match news conference following India's T20 series victory was about Wridhhiman Saha. Before getting into the meat of the problem, the head coach responded with sarcasm.
“Thanks for congratulating us for winning this T20 series,” Dravid said before commenting: “I’m actually not hurt at all, because I have deep respect for Wridhhiman Saha and his achievements, his contribution to Indian cricket. My conversation with him actually came from that place. I think he deserved honesty and he deserved clarity. These are conversations I constantly have with players. I don’t expect players to always like messages or to agree with everything that I have to say about them. That’s not how it works.”
India have won back-to-back limited-overs series against the West Indies, but Saha's absence from the Test team for the upcoming two matches against Sri Lanka has become a significant discussion topic in the previous 24 hours.
The wicketkeeper-batsman described his meetings with Dravid and chief selector Chetan Sharma, as well as the assurance he received from BCCI president Sourav Ganguly. Dravid acknowledged that he needed to have a difficult chat with Saha in order to provide clarity and honesty.
“When you have difficult conversations with people, you don’t expect them to always agree with you. But that doesn’t mean you brush it under the carpet and don’t have the conversations. I truly believe in having those conversations before every playing eleven is picked. Even now, either me or Rohit will speak to the guys who aren’t playing and be open to answer questions why they aren’t playing. So, I’m not hurt by it. I think it’s natural for players at times to get upset and feel hurt. But I feel that Wridhhi, because of the respect I have for him, deserved clarity and honesty. That’s what I was just trying to convey.”
Saha, 37, lost his starting spot to Pant but was retained as the team's backup gloveman. Saha played two Tests in the home series against New Zealand, where Pant was rested, and after striking a game-saving 61 in the second innings at Kanpur despite a neck ailment, he claims he received a Whatsapp message from Ganguly saying, "As long as I'm here (as BCCI chairman), you'll be in the team."
Dravid advised the 'keeper-batsman to rethink his career towards the end of the South Africa tour, with the Indian squad looking to the future,' according to the 'keeper-batsman. Saha interpreted it as an oblique invitation to end his career.
A phone conversation with Sharma followed, where according to Saha, the chief selector told him that he wouldn’t be considered going ahead and the exclusion wasn’t only for the two Tests against Sri Lanka.