India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 2nd day October 10, 2008

Right rhythm, right time for Zaheer

Cricinfo staff
  shares


Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan took nine of the ten wickets in Australia's first innings © Getty Images
 

Brett Lee was becoming a menace. He had added 59 for the eighth wicket with Michael Hussey and had foiled India's hopes of a quick finish to the Australian innings. India needed an inspiring burst from someone and it came from Zaheer Khan. After a brief rest during the break for tea, he cut through the defences of three batsmen with the swinging old ball. The last wicket - that of the centurion Michael Hussey - brought Zaheer his first five-wicket haul in India.

Zaheer was India's most successful bowler on the first day with two wickets including one in the final over which reduced Australia's advantage. His first spell on the second morning, however, was expensive. He went for 36 off 6.4 overs, releasing the pressure created by Ishant Sharma, who bowled four maidens in the morning session.

"I couldn't get my rhythm going in the first session," Zaheer said. "Maybe I was trying a little too much in terms of length and all. I wanted to be a bit more attacking which didn't work. But in the second spell I decided to go slow."

The pitch was a back-breaker. The initial movement disappeared once the ball got old and several deliveries hardly bounced, giving Mahendra Singh Dhoni some nasty takes at ankle height. Zaheer, however, wasn't about to complain.

"It's a bit on the slower side, the ball is keeping low. This is how subcontinent wickets are and you just have to work out a way which is useful for you in terms of getting wickets," he said. "It's hard work, but we are prepared for it. We [Ishant and I] got nine wickets between us and we can't complain much about the pitch."

The Australian batsmen, although they scored 430, had a run-rate of only 2.86 runs an over. Zaheer credited it to the Indian bowlers analysing the conditions and executing the plan of making run-scoring difficult. Ishant was one of the primary reasons why Australia were stifled at one end. He took 4 for 77 in 30 overs and troubled every batsman, including Hussey. Zaheer said bowling in tandem with Ishant was "special" and that it was good to see a youngster "ready to take responsibility".