India’s captain MS Dhoni has been rested for the first Test against Australia, due to a hairline fracture on his thumb. In the absence of Dhoni, who has been India’s first-choice wicketkeeper since he made his debut, India have two options to choose from; Naman Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha. Both these batsmen have made their name on the basis of their consistent performances at the domestic level.
In the last two years or so, Wriddhiman Saha has been the first-choice replacement for MS Dhoni in Test cricket. Although, he hasn’t got many opportunities, he has traveled a lot with the team as the second wicketkeeper batsman. Saha, who has been a consistent performer for Bengal, hasn’t made any impact in the Test cricket yet. In the two matches that he got to play for India, he managed to score just 74 runs in 4 innings, at a poor average of 18.50. But, having said this, it’s never easy to play under shadow of a first-choice wicketkeeper, as you are never sure about your place in the team.
On the other hand, Naman Ojha, who is going through a purple patch, has surprised one and all with this consistent performances at the domestic level in the last 12 months or so. Ojha has been in a spectacular form and in his last three first-class (FC) matches, he has scored 2 hundreds and 2 double hundreds. But despite his good show, Naman Ojha will only travel with the squad for the first Test, in Brisbane, and will return to India once MS Dhoni recovers.
If we talk about Naman Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha’s FC records, Naman Ojha has scored 7165 runs as compared to Wriddhiman Saha’s 3770. But their averages are very identical. Ojha averages 43.42 in 103 FC matches and Saha averages 44.35 in 64 FC matches. But if you compare the current form (as mentioned above), Naman Ojha has a much stronger case than Wriddhiman Saha.
It is true that Wriddhiman Saha is way ahead of Naman Ojha in the pecking order. but if he keeps performing the way he is, it will be very difficult for the selectors to ignore him. In all likeliness, Saha will play the first Test in the absence of MS Dhoni, but there will be a lot of pressure on him, as Naman Ojha, through his consistent performances, is pushing him for a place in India’s Test team.