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October 13, 2008
Zaheer Khan produced a Man-of-the-Match performance in Bangalore before saving his most vicious delivery for after the game. Not satisfied with his all-round efforts, Zaheer attacked Australia's bowlers for being ineffective throughout the opening contest.
"They know they can't take 20 wickets and they are on the back foot," Khan said. "They couldn't get me or Bhajji [Harbhajan Singh] out. So we are in with a big chance. They are under pressure - we know that. So we are looking ahead at the second game."
The teams will head to Mohali on Tuesday carrying extra tension following Zaheer's comprehensive post-mortem of the tourists' performance. Australia were unable to dismiss India on the final day - bad light cost them ten overs and a little momentum - after setting an unlikely target of 299.
After the match Zaheer said the Australians had employed defensive tactics and their spin bowling was a huge weakness. "I have never seen an Australian team play such defensive cricket, which is a good thing for us," he said.
"On a fifth-day pitch the spinners could not do us any harm. That shows what their spin attack is all about." The debutant Cameron White and part-timer Michael Clarke combined for only three wickets in the game.
But Zaheer wasn't finished. "Even the pacers didn't look like getting wickets at any stage today."
Ponting was bemused by Zaheer's "defensive" charge. "I don't know what he means, to tell the truth," he said. "We were the only ones trying to take the game forward. We played aggressive cricket. He can have a little bit of a chuckle on the inside at what he's had to say. I don't think it means too much to us."
The exchange adds weight to a rivalry that has simmered since Australia beat India 2-1 at home in 2007-08. It also ensures there will be more spice in the lead-up to the match in Mohali starting Friday.
Zaheer was involved in a short, heated argument with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin while he was batting on the third day and said he expected such behaviour from his opponents. "We all know Aussies do all these kind of things," he said. "We settled the matter on the field and did not take it any further."
Zaheer collected six wickets for the match, including 5 for 91 in the first innings, to go with his unbeaten 57. Ponting said Zaheer's partnership with Harbhajan, when they rescued India from 232 for 7 on the way to 360, was a big turning point.
"Up till then we were way ahead," he said. "The lead went from 180 to 200 to 70. They took the momentum."
Zaheer was pleased to have succeeded with the ball along with Ishant Sharma in the first innings. "It was very important for me when we lost the toss that the fast bowlers took responsibility," he said. "We responded and are very happy that as a bowling unit we did that for this match."
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