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Will decide closer to Test on Saha’s availability: Bowling coach Mhambrey

Mhambrey attributed Ishant Sharma's dip in form to lack of game time

Saha undergoes surgery, expected to be fit in time for New Zealand Tests Wriddhiman Saha has undergone a successful surgery after sustaining the fracture | Salil Bera

India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey on Wednesday said the team management would take a call on Wriddhiman Saha’s availability closer to the second Test match, which begins in Mumbai on Friday.

“The physios are in touch constantly with the head coach Rahul (Dravid) and obviously Virat (Kohli) now and as we get closer to the game, we will take a call and see what condition he is in,” Mhambrey said at the virtual press conference.

Stiffness in the neck did not allow India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha to take the field on day five of the first Test against New Zealand here on Monday. K.S. Bharat, who could make his debut on Friday, kept the wickets in his absence.

Saha scored a fighting 61 not out on day four to put India in a strong position after the hosts lost five wickets for 51 runs.

Bharat has a triple hundred as an opener and his inclusion would mean that both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane would remain in the playing eleven. Mhambrey heaped praise on Saha for his effort in the Kanpur Test.

“But obviously with whatever he (Saha) has been through, I think (it was a) fabulous effort in the last Test match to bat in that. It was painful, we realise that but he put his hand up and (said) the team wanted it and he delivered it for the team, really happy to see that,” added Mhambrey.

Give Ishant time

Ishant Sharma's lack of rhythm can be attributed to lack of game time and it would take a couple of Test matches for him to get back into the groove, Mhambrey said in his assessment of the seasoned pacer's current struggle.

The only player in the incumbent set-up to have played 100 Test matches, the 33-year-old Ishant had a forgettable tour of England and even in the opening Test against New Zealand in Kanpur, he went wicket-less without ever looking penetrative, unlike his new-ball partner Umesh Yadav.

"Ishant hasn't, unfortunately, played much Test cricket for a long time and didn't play in IPL or T20 World Cup (and) that does make a difference," Mhambrey said on whether Ishant's lack of rhythm is being addressed.

"We are working on his rhythm and we are aware of it. I am sure he needs a couple of games to get that rhythm going. He will be back for sure."

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