India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 5th day October 13, 2008

'Australia can't take 20 wickets' - Zaheer

Cricinfo staff

Zaheer Khan: "They [Australia] couldn't get me or Bhajji [Harbhajan Singh] out. So we are in with a big chance" © Getty Images

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • brad on October 15, 2008, 17:17 GMT

    What game was India watching? There was only one team playing for a win and it certainly wasn't them. India needs to lose this whole "We are better than Australia attitude" it's just embarrassing to watch them trying to throw off the Australians with all these stupid comments they share with the media that don't even make sense. For the love of god just focus on your cricket and you might start winning some games, leave the drama at home and stop turning all of your matches into a soap opera.

    Why is Z.khan ripping on Aus spinners? Australia used 2 part time spinners and one was in his first test (C.White). How did the Indian front line spinners go hmm? Oh yeah I guess that must have slipped your mind, they looked about as threatening as Dravid did with the bat.

  • Josh on October 15, 2008, 9:38 GMT

    I do find it hard to accept Australia were "more aggressive" scoring 250 on day one of a dubious pitch then expecting India to score 300 in two and a bit sessions on day five..... Hardly attacking, nor was the single slip to the first new ball on day five. Whoever won the toss should have won this match. Australia were well-placed to win, India were forced to defend, which they did well. The game of cricket ebbs, India were never in a position to attack, Australia were in good position, but didnt take the initiative winning the toss afforded them.

  • sasikanth on October 15, 2008, 3:34 GMT

    I am amused by Ricky pontings comments and the Australian media blaming ganguly for delaying tactics. how can ponting say that Australia are playing new age cricket and were the only ones forcing for a win when he himself took 243 balls to score 123 runs, hussey took 276 balls for 146 runs, katich took 149 balls for a paltry 66 and haddin took 110 balls for 33 runs.. ON A FIRST+Second DAY WICKET?? come on give us a break.. and then they expect India to score quiclky and throw away their wickets on a fourth day pitch in fading light? truthfully though, Indian bowlers troubled the australian batsman thoughout the game. Thanks to Ishant and Zaheer. Guys like shane watson were luckyly hitting the cracks and getting the ball to "swing" and getting wickets(dravid). ponting after being abused and fooled by Ishanth, said it was only because he was being defensive early on, no credit to ishanth. please take your attitude, bias and denials somewhere else mr ponting. new age cricket.. hahahahaha

  • Malcolm on October 14, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    I have been lucky enough to have seen the 20/20 tournament here in Toronto.If test cricket plays the way the Aussies and Indians played at 2 1/2 runs per over you can sweep up after the rush for the doors(gates)takes place. After winning the toss Australia never seemed the force they once were.When the TV snickometer or whatever the lbw technology is called kicks in(sooner the better get rid of doubt and bad decisions)and everyone has the same playing field the game will improve. The last few test series have all had bad decisions.So lets use every bit of technology so if we watch the slower type of cricket at least we are not jibbed out of victory by a series of shocking decisions. The 20/20 games were full of joy and fun and players trying to win and more importantly spreading the game.The last aussie/india match was a yawn

  • Kunal on October 14, 2008, 13:02 GMT

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...... After going thru this article and the posts I feel that Aussies are really sore at Zaheer's comments...... That too coming after Mr. Ponting claimed that the "Indians play old school cricket"????? Its a laugh to see someone dreaming of knocking out Zaheer's stumps with a Brett Lee yorker. ZAK seems to have really gotten to u guys??? Zaheer has already accomplished his entire series worth of batting by making the Aussies want his wicket the most. All their life the Aussies have been indulging in sledging and suddenly they wish to be called the fair hair child of cricket as they are getting back what they have always given and so have suddenly turned over a new leaf it seems. Also how relevant is it that the Aussie pacers were able to bowl lesser overs due to bad light, considering that Brett Lee and company were thrashed by Bhajji and Zak? As far as chasing down the target on the last day was concerned, India probably would have gone for it had Viru lasted.

  • Siddharth on October 14, 2008, 12:41 GMT

    Australians are well known for being aggressive on and off the field. Is it really such a suprise that this sort of behaviour rubs off onto their opponents?

    The 'polite and mild-mannered' India is dead, now is the time of the lower middle class to blaze into glorious summer and carve out their own corner of the game. Just as the likes of Merv Hughes, Boony, Ponting, Warnie, Haydos and M. Clarke have changed Australia into a far more gritty, potent (and less sofisticated) team - similarly hotheads and young guns are changing the face of Indian cricket, and I would say, for the better. Its time for the old guard to retire and for the likes of Dhoni, Ghambir, Zaheer, Ishant Sharma, Kholi, Yuvraj, Pathan's and Chawla to stand up. Finally Tendulkar should play his last test series and retire, and let Shewag take over as the marquee batsman.

    Test selection should not be a matter of entitlement as is the case currently, but rather of confidence, performance and beligerance.

  • prafulla on October 14, 2008, 12:19 GMT

    I think Zaheer is right on spot as usual. Oz never looked to be in hurry to score and take advantage of the lead to force the result. Having said that, India was also defensive and never took so called "Home" advantage. Indian spinners loked pathetic and India should look beyond Bhajji/Kumble - Piyush Chawla could be good deal. Sachin needs to be more positive and Ponting's batting performance was impressive. Indians should now take advantage of result of this match considering that they lost almost every session to OZ in first test but still could manage to Draw the test. And yes - You all OZ fans - STOP WHINING. OZ team is allowed to comment anything about opponents and everyone should consider it as OZ style of living! Your media even goes out of way to support it! When some other team takes a dig at you, you fellas feel "Disrespectful" Grow up guys!How can OZ media cry about bad light appeal and its decision? Simply Poor journalism guys!

  • Michael Ponnudurai on October 14, 2008, 11:56 GMT

    Our so called world class spinners could take no more than 3 wkts in the entire match. So Zaheer should first shut his trap. Aus managed to score 430 despite a substandard India pitch. India, despite individual brilliance from Zaheer and Harbhajan, could only manage 360 which by no means more than 430. And it was Australia trying to win the match and India trying to save fighting with their back to the wall. Does Zaheer think Indian cricket fans are mad or fools to get carried by his haughty thoughts. Let our cricketers stop talking and start performing. Let Zaheer realise that despite their spin dept being weak and they having been defensive, Aus had India on the mat and running for cover most part of the match, not in Aus pitch but in a rank bad Indian pitch. But for rain and bad light, India could have lost the game. Zaheer's wail really shows who had been under pressure.

  • Sriram on October 14, 2008, 11:50 GMT

    I could see a lot of Aussie suporters fired up in this message board. I dont think Zaheer was wrong. Infact Aussies have become a lot more defensive than what they used to be. I think after the 2001 Kolkatta test, they have stopped taking India lightly. These kinds of statements are expected to come by during an India Australia series. Its just that India is taking the lead this time to intimidate the Aussies. Have you guys forgotten Glenn Macgrath's statements "We can bounce out Sachin" "Sachin has a weakness outside off stump and we'll expose him" etc....Or even the latest one from Shane Warne (though not associated with International Cricket these days) "Australia will wipe out England in the next Ashes". I dont think we should give too much of importance to these statements and just enjoy some good cricket. Fact of the matter is this team is no where close to Steve Waugh's team that toured India in 2001. India has a good chance of beating Aussies and I hope they dont mess it up.

  • Leigh on October 14, 2008, 10:59 GMT

    I just want to make one point about the dodgy umpiring decisions of this game because a lot of one-eyed Indian fans are again whining that they got the short end of the stick. The poor decisions (as happens in 90 per cent of games) went both ways. Hayden was undoubtedly shafted with the caught behind decision on day one, and was terribly unlucky to be given LBW in his second dig when striding forward while already batting well out of his crease. But this is never mentioned because -of course- it's only poor old India who get dodgy decisions. I think Dravid was also shafted with his first innings LBW. Gambhir was lucky to get away with the third umpire decision going his way with that run out in the second innings. Kumble's LBW was iffy. These things happen - it's how cricket works. I don't ever want to hear another Indian fan whining about how poor umpiring decisions cost them the game. Take that India patch off your eye and see it from both sides fellas.

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