India in South Africa 2010-11 December 30, 2010

The secret of Zaheer's success

He has learnt the art of bringing the ball back into the right-hander too and also sacrificed a bit of pace for accuracy
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The first time I faced Zaheer Khan was in a Duleep Trophy match against West Zone in Mohali. It was overcast, the track had a lot of juice in it and Zaheer was wrecking havoc with his pace. His stock ball, which was also his only wicket-taking delivery, went away from the right-hand batsmen. He would pepper the batsmen with some well-directed bouncers at a decent pace (resulting in hitting a few of us on the head) to push them on the back-foot, and then suck the batsmen into fishing the balls meant to be left alone. Yet, there was a catch -- he just couldn't get the ball to shape into the right-hand batsman. Beyond a point we got used to the pace, the bounce and the angle. So much so, that I started leaving the balls pitching on the middle and off stump trusting the angle to take the ball away from the stumps. In any case, even if I misjudged, the chances of the ball pitching in line with the stumps and hitting them were minimal, thanks to the angle and the predictable away swing.

Subsequently, Zaheer had a dip in form, got dropped from the Indian team and went to England to play a season of county cricket. And to every Indian's delight, he came back a different bowler. He was no longer one-dimensional, for he had learnt the art of bringing the ball back into the right-hander too. He also sacrificed a bit of pace for accuracy and went on to prove that speed, at times, is an extremely overrated virtue. If you can pitch the ball in the right areas, ask the right questions consistently, you really don't need the extra yard of pace to trouble the batsman. Not that pace doesn't come handy, but you can also do without it.

This new-and-improved version of Zaheer is a far more difficult bowler to play than the older one. The next time I faced him in a match was an Irani Cup tie against the Rest of India on a win-the-toss-bat-first Baroda pitch. It was a flat surface with no hint of grass or moisture to assist lateral movement off the pitch. But Zaheer didn't need these allies anymore to be effective. He started slowly, as he often does in the sub-continent, but with the precision of a mathematician. He bowled only two lengths initially, a full ball (openers aren't used to playing full deliveries right at the beginning) and the short ball delivered with cross seam (in order to get one side of the ball rough as soon as possible). And once he managed to get one side of the ball nice and shiny, he changed once again, for good. He started hiding the shine of the ball on his run-up in such a way that it wasn't visible to the batsman till the very last moment. He reminded me of Wasim Akram, albeit Akram had the advantage of a quick arm action, which Zaheer didn't. Zak made up for it by keeping both his hands together till the very last moment and then more than made up with an impeccable line and length.

When the ball is swinging, more than the length, the lines become crucial to a bowler's success, for invariably the bowler has to pitch the ball up to get the most of the swing in the air. It is indeed, in my view, Zaheer's line of attack that makes him such a dangerous operator. Regardless of the direction of swing, he would always pitch the ball in the area in which the batsman would have to make one of the two choices -- to play or to leave the ball. It is one of the most difficult decisions a batsman has to make if the ball is pitched in the right area because the wicket is on the line, which is not always the case when you choose between defending and attacking.

Another thing that he's added to his Test bowling is the ability to bowl at 70% whenever required and still bowl a probing line unlike others who go for plenty the moment they drop pace or effort. Once again his control over the line comes to his rescue. He would bowl a teasing line on the fifth-sixth stump enticing the batsman to take a chance to go after him. His subtle variation in swing and pace would keep the batsman in check and wouldn't make him predictable.

Undoubtedly, the latest Zaheer is at par with the best Test bowlers in the world and continues to be a batsman's nightmare. You can ask Graeme Smith of South Africa if you don't believe me.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Proteas123 on January 6, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Zaheer is a good player but no where near Steyn's class. For guys who say he doesn't have support, he has Harbhajan who is the highest wicket taker of current players. In my view Harbhajan is of more value but needs support from Zaheer. Steyn is in a class of his own.

  • on January 1, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    I believe the Indian fast bowlers should be sent to County Cricket.Ishant wanted to go there but BCCI stopped him God knows why even when they have the glaring example of Zaheer Khan in front of their eyes.He came back a different bowler and he is the best in the world at the moment.i believe that Munaf Patel R.P.Singh Irfan Pathan Ishant Sharma and even Praveen Kumar should be sent to England to play a whole season of County Cricket and mark my words they will come back as a better player and bowler if not better than ZAK.As for Zaheer VS Steyn of course steyn is better there is no doubt about it but Zaheer is the best Left Arm Fast Bowler in the world.

  • amin.bintory on January 1, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    He's undoubtedly the King of Indian pace. If he had fitness on his side his wickets would have been at least a 100-150 more. For the last 3 years since his return to the Indian team, he's been taking wickets and winning matches by the truckload for India. In India as well as abroad. Hats off to King Khan! And for all the disillusionsed folks who are comparing him to Dale Steyn, I have only one thing to say. You can't compare them at all! They're in league of their own and comparing them is like deciding whether Mercedes is better than BMW or not.

  • Abhi_Blr on January 1, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    We see batting god in Sachin but we dont have a bowling god. So lets make one. "Zaheer is the difference between 1st and 2nd Test." Now, who knew how Zaheer would have bowled in the 1st test ? Why shoot Sree / Ishant for bowling badly ? "When Zak is there other bowlers get inspired." Really ? When and where have the others whole heartedly and thankfully acknowledged that with conviction ? But still everybody would go on and snatch Sree's credits and give them to Zaheer ! "Zaheer is the one with a plan." I sincerely request you to go and have a relook at all the balls bowled, how the wickets were taken and deduce that strategy ! I'm not at all undermining Zaheer's performance. Its just that I dont like too much hype around a person and that other members of the team should get their due credit too !

  • rohanblue on December 31, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    zaheer is a true champion ...

  • on December 31, 2010, 18:04 GMT

    what ever the kind of bowler zaheer maybe comparing with steyn . He won quiet a number of matches for the country. Zaheer winning matches for team india is more important than zaheer being compared to steyn!!! at the moment he is much needed to the indians for the amount of experience he posses in the present not much experienced indian bowling attack. well done zak......and keep doing well for the team.....cheers!!!!!!!

  • East_West on December 31, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    AKASH...almost forgot!! congrats for the Rajasthan win! Great game and hope with your excellent knack of dissecting cricket, i hope you folks go all the way!! too bad you are not opening for INDIA but you may the best CRICKET BRAINS we have now at the moment! keep up the good work brother!

  • East_West on December 31, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    V-UnitedSC: I don't think IYER is implying vegetarian is no good or good or anything to do politics!! In fact, the famous GHAVRI mentioned that DIET matters a lot! I am not a HINDU and brought up on a different diet..and trust me it does matter!! of course talent is talent irrespective of DIET but.... if you are a swing/seam bowler with a GENTLE pace..then it is easy to read the bowler even if it is WASIM...so yes, diet can make a huge difference..yes we all are indians...and proud of our heritage!!!

  • V-UnitedSC on December 31, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Mr. Dr.K.H.Iyer.... Dont use words like " Vigge or Non- Veg" only our Indian Bowling attack have Veggie eaters... Do U mean to say only Veggie are Fit and other eat Non- Veg are not healthy???? U can see, Many Speed Machines in the world are Non- Veg eaters and over 95% of the players around the world are Non- Veg eaters.. . They r not fit Or what ????

    Please Mr. Iyer, Dont bring this kind of politics here jus Like our BCCI's Chief Selector.... Dont talk abt food habit, religion, caste, region and all...

    we all r indians, we have unity in Diversity

    Sorry if i hurt u

  • on December 31, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    zac is d best!!!!!!no doubt abt it at d moment ...he is d best left handed bwler arnd...

  • Proteas123 on January 6, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Zaheer is a good player but no where near Steyn's class. For guys who say he doesn't have support, he has Harbhajan who is the highest wicket taker of current players. In my view Harbhajan is of more value but needs support from Zaheer. Steyn is in a class of his own.

  • on January 1, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    I believe the Indian fast bowlers should be sent to County Cricket.Ishant wanted to go there but BCCI stopped him God knows why even when they have the glaring example of Zaheer Khan in front of their eyes.He came back a different bowler and he is the best in the world at the moment.i believe that Munaf Patel R.P.Singh Irfan Pathan Ishant Sharma and even Praveen Kumar should be sent to England to play a whole season of County Cricket and mark my words they will come back as a better player and bowler if not better than ZAK.As for Zaheer VS Steyn of course steyn is better there is no doubt about it but Zaheer is the best Left Arm Fast Bowler in the world.

  • amin.bintory on January 1, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    He's undoubtedly the King of Indian pace. If he had fitness on his side his wickets would have been at least a 100-150 more. For the last 3 years since his return to the Indian team, he's been taking wickets and winning matches by the truckload for India. In India as well as abroad. Hats off to King Khan! And for all the disillusionsed folks who are comparing him to Dale Steyn, I have only one thing to say. You can't compare them at all! They're in league of their own and comparing them is like deciding whether Mercedes is better than BMW or not.

  • Abhi_Blr on January 1, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    We see batting god in Sachin but we dont have a bowling god. So lets make one. "Zaheer is the difference between 1st and 2nd Test." Now, who knew how Zaheer would have bowled in the 1st test ? Why shoot Sree / Ishant for bowling badly ? "When Zak is there other bowlers get inspired." Really ? When and where have the others whole heartedly and thankfully acknowledged that with conviction ? But still everybody would go on and snatch Sree's credits and give them to Zaheer ! "Zaheer is the one with a plan." I sincerely request you to go and have a relook at all the balls bowled, how the wickets were taken and deduce that strategy ! I'm not at all undermining Zaheer's performance. Its just that I dont like too much hype around a person and that other members of the team should get their due credit too !

  • rohanblue on December 31, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    zaheer is a true champion ...

  • on December 31, 2010, 18:04 GMT

    what ever the kind of bowler zaheer maybe comparing with steyn . He won quiet a number of matches for the country. Zaheer winning matches for team india is more important than zaheer being compared to steyn!!! at the moment he is much needed to the indians for the amount of experience he posses in the present not much experienced indian bowling attack. well done zak......and keep doing well for the team.....cheers!!!!!!!

  • East_West on December 31, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    AKASH...almost forgot!! congrats for the Rajasthan win! Great game and hope with your excellent knack of dissecting cricket, i hope you folks go all the way!! too bad you are not opening for INDIA but you may the best CRICKET BRAINS we have now at the moment! keep up the good work brother!

  • East_West on December 31, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    V-UnitedSC: I don't think IYER is implying vegetarian is no good or good or anything to do politics!! In fact, the famous GHAVRI mentioned that DIET matters a lot! I am not a HINDU and brought up on a different diet..and trust me it does matter!! of course talent is talent irrespective of DIET but.... if you are a swing/seam bowler with a GENTLE pace..then it is easy to read the bowler even if it is WASIM...so yes, diet can make a huge difference..yes we all are indians...and proud of our heritage!!!

  • V-UnitedSC on December 31, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Mr. Dr.K.H.Iyer.... Dont use words like " Vigge or Non- Veg" only our Indian Bowling attack have Veggie eaters... Do U mean to say only Veggie are Fit and other eat Non- Veg are not healthy???? U can see, Many Speed Machines in the world are Non- Veg eaters and over 95% of the players around the world are Non- Veg eaters.. . They r not fit Or what ????

    Please Mr. Iyer, Dont bring this kind of politics here jus Like our BCCI's Chief Selector.... Dont talk abt food habit, religion, caste, region and all...

    we all r indians, we have unity in Diversity

    Sorry if i hurt u

  • on December 31, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    zac is d best!!!!!!no doubt abt it at d moment ...he is d best left handed bwler arnd...

  • East_West on December 31, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    RED MEAT rather DIET is one of the keys to generate a great pace and growing up on it can make wonders ! India is the only vegetarian team in the world [in majority] as compared to others [except Zak, who is brought up on RED MEAT] but other than that a good chunk is vegetarian [some chicken-eaters may be..]so considering the fact that DIET matters a lot, esp for the FAST ONES who have to generate a good amount of pace [not to mention pace combo with swing can do wonders], India has a long tradition of athletes whose DIET is not typical of sports diet..so yes, Bangla has a better attack and even ZIM and Ireland..but why are other teams NOT ABLE TO play on flat/dead tracks then??? If you FOLKS ARE SO GOOD and then WHY DIDN'T YOU BEAT INDIA CONSISTENTLY BEFORE???? Zak's success has to do with DROPPING from the team as well..this is where GREG the DEVIL played important role..then went to ENG for county cricket..even SOURAV started playing well! Hope ZAK takes care of 3rd test as well!

  • Gururavi28 on December 31, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Zaheeer is d best at d moment in left arm bowlers:)

    Good luck to team india for Capetown

  • NimishGarg on December 31, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Yaar Truely When Zaheer Is in the team, The same bowling attack looks more penetrating than ever. For instance take the first and the second test only. Sreesanth, Harbhajan and Ishant were hamerred at more than 4 per over in the first match. And the South Africans made a mountain of 620-4.(including the 225 coming in a single session on the 3rd day 1st session) But the same attack in the presence of zaheer gets 20 wickets although Zaheer claiming only 6 of those. Sreesanth looked a diffrent bowler in his company and produced a gem to get rid of Kallis in the 2nd innings. Without him the bowling attack is not of the team who is test ranked Num.1, O.D.I. num.2 and dreams to win the 50 over world cup nxt year......

  • on December 31, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    @pipsonian Infact that is oe thing that you miss out.. Zaheer is Indias only strike owler. So he has to set batsmen himself and get them out. Where on the other hand Steyn has had the likes of ntini and morkel to keep up the pressure which helps in taking wiketcs quickly.

    But here I would also like to add that they are twoo different bowlers and cant be compared. Steyn is an excellent bowler and gtes a lot of wickets. Zaheer on his part too is a brilliant bowler.

  • simplysunny on December 31, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    BCCI should invest few bucks to make a fast bowler for indian cricket team. As of now everyone knows that indian team totally depends on zaheer's bowling . They need to train one existing bowler or bring one new bowler who can bowl all the 6 balls of an over at a speed of 140 kmph consistently. Someone should be there to replace zaheer when he is injured or as an 2nd pace bowler . This can make indian team so strong from both batting and bowling departments.

  • Street_Hawk on December 31, 2010, 6:26 GMT

    Steyn definitely is a much better bowler. He may go down as one of the best bowlers in the history of the game if he can keep up his good form and stay injury free. So comparing him with Zak is meaningless. It's like comparing Tamim Iqbal with Virender Sehwag or Andrew Flintoff with Jacques Kallis.

    Based on current performances I'll definitely keep both Steyn and Zaheer in my team as they can be very effective on both green and flat decks. Somebody mentioned Anderson is better than Zaheer. I want to remind them that Anderson has never been effective on flat sub-continent pitches where as Zaheer is very effective in English conditions. Also, Mitchell Johnson is good only on bouncy wickets and not very consistent either. So I can't put Johnson or Anderson before Zaheer at the moment.

  • onkar_Kulkarni on December 31, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    @pipsonian

    Please dont make a fool of yourself with such comments. You are saying two different, and correct, things at the same time and drawing a hugely erroneous conclusion. Having a good support bowler like Ntini or great a one like Waqar/Wasim makes the life of strike bowler much, much easier. Why do you think Shreesanth was so effective in second test of the ongoing series in SA? If only Zaheer had someone like Morkel to support him then his stats would have been totally different from what he has right now. Steyn is best but its partly because the support he gets from Morkel.

  • HenryFonda on December 31, 2010, 3:48 GMT

    Oh well, Zaheer is one of the best test bowlers going around...Dale Steyn has the advantage of 7-8 kph extra pace. Dale Steyn will remain a good fast bowler even when his pace drops because he has the virtues of good line and length and can swing the ball. But watching Zaheer is real fun now a days. I think most here will agree when I say that Zaheer is the one of the cleverest cricketers going around. Can anybody remember 1 test match in last three years where he has not played well. I certainly cannot. He is unlucky not to be playing in 90's. Even if zaheer is not in Akram's class, he surely is coming close to it. The other Indian fast bowlers must learn a trick or two from Zaheer and not forget that Zaheer's resurgence has a lot to do with his playing county cricket in England. I really dont understand why Ishant was stopped from going there. Once he goes there, we will see renewed vigour and pace in him too.

  • alltimegreat on December 31, 2010, 2:11 GMT

    This article is about Zak and how lethal he has become to opposition teams..and most of the comments are about how good is Steyn!!! Doesn't make sense..grow up guys

  • banter123 on December 31, 2010, 0:16 GMT

    Why has India not been able to produce pace bowlers of steyn,lee quality?? There has been a MRF pace academy set up at bangalore but i wonder it has met its set target over the years. When will India have a tall,agile fast bowlers who can swing the bowl both the ways,throw a barrage of bouncers and can be a match-winner

  • on December 30, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Dale Steyn will go down as the greatest fast bowler of all time when his career ends and if he does not suffer career threating injuries, in my humble opinion. I know people will say I am dreaming since in 45 tests he has 232 and getting 800 odd that Warne has is uphill task - i totally agree and accept this argument, but if Steyn can be consistent which is indeed a tall order for a fast bowler after 5-10 years, so let us see. He does deserve to be the NO.1

  • on December 30, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    when it comes to tests steyn is like WOW but zaheer betters him when it comes 2 ODIs u cant tell who's best

  • pipsonian on December 30, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    One thing that most people forget when comparing ZAK vs Steyn is that ZAK is the only strike bowler for India so obviously he will take more wickets but for Steyn he has had Ntinin and now Morkel so Steyn won't be getting too many wickets but that doesn't mean he is is not a great bowler. This situation reminds me of great bowling attacks like Ambrose and Walsh, Lillee and Thompson, Wasim and Waqar plus all these bowlers had good supporting bowlers also i.e Bishop, Imran/Aaqib/Shoaib. I personally think the way Zaheer is bowling at the moment, he is clearly 5th best in the world. My top picks are Anderson, Steyn, Mohammad Aamir and Asif (if they are cleared) and then Zaheer. If Mitchell Johnson can get his form back completely, then he too is better than Zaheer.

  • ahlawata on December 30, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    Now for Zak no doubt he changed the mentality of Indian bowlers especially seamers. In comparison to Steyn in the series in India he took 27% of the SA wickets compare to 42% of Steyn. The only match he played in SA he took 30% of SA wickets compare to 45% of Steyn. Zak has taken 267 at an avg of 31.85 and Steyn has taken 232 wickets in 45 test at an avg of 23.31. If Steyn plays as many matches as Zak he will take approx 396 wickets. I dont like the comparisons of two players any way but statically when everything is said and done Steyn will be one of the greatest fast bowler in the history of this game if he continues to do what he do for the next three years. In Zak favor I can say he is a very good bowler and uses his potential to the best of his ability and it sure helps India. I think he made team India win the test in Durban.

  • on December 30, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    AND NOW THINK OF INDIAN TEAM WITHOUT ZAHEER AND LAXMAN. OH MAN............JUST DON'T WANT TO EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.ZAHEER IS A BOWLER WHICH INDIA MIGHT HAVE GOT BY MISTAKE BUT THIS MISTAKE IS REQUIRED TO BE MADE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND ASAP.

  • ahlawata on December 30, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    I totally agree with JustOUT, Steyn is no doubt one of the best bowlers in the world. Zak is good but not in the comparison of Steyn this guy is good. He is 4th fastest to get 200 wickets which put him in the league of Dennis Lille, which is impressive. He is one of the main reasons that SA is so good. In two games in this series this guy has taken 45% of the Indian wickets. In the last series in India he got 42% of Indian wickets. I think he has proved over the years that he is not only good at home but can bowl any where in the world effectively.

  • sweetspot on December 30, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    I don't know what all the fuss about pace is! Zaheer consistently bowls in the 130s and Steyn consistently in the 140s. That's about 8%. I would easily give up 8% of my pace to gain a whole new dimension to my bowling! If the ball moves and darts, there aren't that many players in the world who can cover for it. Wasim Akram was devastating at ANY pace! Zaheer is a silent killer.

  • on December 30, 2010, 18:35 GMT

    And indeed Zaheer wrote the script of one of the greatest test win for India.Now everyone witnessed imortance of Zack. Without him rest of the Indian bowling looks pedistrian or you can say club standard

  • cricPassion2009 on December 30, 2010, 18:26 GMT

    I agree that Sreesanth sealed the win for India by capturing the most important wickets. Zaheer's importance is the change in profile and body language of bowlers which was lacking in the first test where he did not play. The same bowling unit was transformed when Zaheer was back.

  • JustOUT on December 30, 2010, 16:59 GMT

    @ Muzeiyan - I think you pulled your own leg. You mentioned Steyn took most of his wkts in SA. Well, this stats is for you as you wished. Steyn against India in India 5 matches 26 wkts, Ave- 20.23, Strike rate - 34.5. Now, Zaheeragainst SA in India 4 matches 10 wkts :) Ave -38.90, Strike rate - 76.8. Do you want any other stats, just let me know, b'coz i love presenting Steyn's stats to anyone who says he is worth only in SA. Now, the only countries where he did not have a 5 for is Bangladesh n England. first 100 wkts in 20 matches, next 100 in 20 matches, again 5 matches - 32 wkts. This guy is truly phenomenal. I bet Steyn will be the man of the series in the ongoing SA vs IND test matches. Any doubts?

  • Alexk400 on December 30, 2010, 16:54 GMT

    Steyn miles ahead of Zaheer. Steyn is like BMW. Zaher is a Hundai. :)

  • on December 30, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    Great article. . Wow. . I felt like reading it again n again. . Akash's one of d best articles ever. . So modest in praising his fellow cricketer. .

  • Pramod75 on December 30, 2010, 16:34 GMT

    Probably Zaheer today is more potent than earlier. Reason is swing more than anything else. We see lot of bowlers in India when they come to the team, bowl in mid 140's and almost immediately, get down to mid 130's. Talk about Ishanth, Nehra, RP and others including Zaheer.As a matter of fact, apart from Srinath, I dont think any other Indian bowler had bowled at a consistent pace of 140's through out a long career. They all talk about sacrificing pace for line and length. However, the critical success factor is swing and not really the accuracy. Zaheer is now capable of swinging both the ways and also reverse. Hence, he is more successful. To add to that, he has the confidence to say a word or two to the batsmen and then actually follows up with a good delivery. Words alone will not win matches or get wickets (ask Sreesanth). It is usually a good follow up ball that gets the wickets.

  • Dr.K.H.Iyer on December 30, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    Zak and Srinath were very similar at debut! Yorker was a stunning weapon they had! Remember Zak yorking his way to glory! Also Srinath yorking Lara and Hooper off successive deliveries! The difference was how they handled their late careers! Srinath was beaten down by injury but came back as complete & different bowler (remember 2003 WC) but he didn't last! Zak did the same and came back as a complete bowler but lasted!( Zak is a non-vegetarian while Srinath was a veggie; those days no fitness consultants and physios)! On the whole I would rate Srinath a bit higher!

    No point in comparing anyone to Steyn, he is the best of the post McGrath era! Would he become as great as McGrath? Once his PACE deserts Steyn, his bowling skills will come to the fore! Donald miserably failed that test! Let's see if Steyn does better!

    The three greatest pacemen have all been fast medium but with immaculate control and determination: Hadlee, Barnes & McGrath!

  • on December 30, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    @justout: Steyn had taken most of those wkts in SA whereas ZAK has taken it in INDIA where there are flat tracks or the tracks assisting spinners with a exception of few..... tell him to get those wkts in Indian conditions being a fast bowler... I dont say steyn is bad bowler but i say zak at present is better bowler than steyn......

  • on December 30, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    Regarding the Steyn Vs. Zaheer debate, or any other head-to-head. It would be interesting to do a head-to-head (of bowler averages, strike rate, etc.) in various settings; i.e. Sub continental head-to-head; SA head-to-head, etc., for the last 2 or 3 years. Zaheer will of course have a higher overall average because he bowls a higher percentage on sub continental dust bowls, but I'd like to see a stratified head-to-head.

  • hattrick_thug on December 30, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    I beg your pardon, but I just wanted to make a language correction. It's not "wrecking havoc", it's "wreaking havoc". I had to say it because this phrase has appeared more often on cricinfo than I would care to silently ignore.

  • saifud on December 30, 2010, 15:49 GMT

    well akash,i really love to read your writing.im coming from malaysia,as you know malaysia cricket is really naive.that why i always came here to upgrade my knowledge regarding cricket and it is a good platform for me to know the world wide cricket.zaheer khan is the best.i like zaheer so much.he came on good time to give impact on making chaos to SA batting line up especially top order eraly fold on their first innning in 2nd test at durban.

  • on December 30, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Akash, Keep writing! You always give us the views including your own contexts and experiences. This is difference I love to read.

  • on December 30, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    "If you can pitch the ball in the right areas, ask the right questions consistently, you really don't need the extra yard of pace to trouble the batsman." This exactly descibes the method of many great bowlers from McGrath backwards, and of the current English bowling line-up.

  • Howazzatt on December 30, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    Yes, every1 witnessed the effect Zak has brought to the team.. awesome. Wish SA put into bat and see how they thrive the first day pitch condition. Again I tell you Munaf Patel would have been a better seam choice than I.Sharam in this conditions. He is more accurate in line and length and he is certainly can extract extra bounce from length ball on this bouncy pitches. More importantly he never gives easy runs which we saw in recent ODI with NZ. Of course he is not prone to bowl NO balls. My bowling team for Capetown would be Zak/Sree/Munaf/Bajji. Who would listen??

  • sssviswam on December 30, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    Zak is very good bowler and the most consistent,no doubt.But in this game Sreeshanth's contribution is amazing! See by comparing the wickets he got! All are the guys who could carry away the match! In first innings De Villiers! second innings: Kallis,Amla and Smith.No body took so many precious wickets! Also his attitude is different from usual Indian syle which is effective especially out of India.

  • on December 30, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    @justOUT....y are u unnecessarily raising the topic whether zaheer is better or steyn.....clearly speaking steyn is better as everyone in the world will say the same....but when the ball is old there is no one better than zaheer...

  • Arok on December 30, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    Thanks Aakash for producing yet another wonderful article. I would rate Zaheer next to Kapil and above Srinath & Prasad; because of his brainy moves during the game; Srinath used to bowl his heart out but sometimes due to lack of specific plans for the players the success has not been consistent. Zaheer has been a very dominant bowler who has performed well irrespective of the pitch conditions. The emergence of Zaheer especially in a country were pace bowlers are not much recognized than spinners is really commendable. We hope you play for more number of years to come without getting injured (due to IPL commitments).

  • Podarite on December 30, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    Zak is a Complete Bowler Now...He brings that X-Factor in the Team which also motivates Sreesanth & Sharma!

  • on December 30, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    who says hard work and sincerity does not pay? While ZAK's fragile body keeps breaking down every now and then, he has learned to bowl around his strength. He has realized his limitations - cannot bowl fast consistently- and bowls around it. I would tend to agree with Naveen that, atleast on live TV you can probably sense that he is not trying to take wicket on every bowl. He is practicing the art of setting-up the wicket. A good read!

  • on December 30, 2010, 14:05 GMT

    Hope Ishant, Sreesanth, Unadkat and the upcoming talented bowlers for team India learn from Zaheer and try to maintain his levels of consistency and temperament before he retires.. or else Indian pace bowling department does not have enough in them to win matches for India after Zak retires...

  • JustOUT on December 30, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    Naveen Kr. Yes, Zaheer has improved alott. But dont compare him with Steyn while working. Steyn had already proved how he works with bowler eg., Vijay & Sachin in Nagpur test. Gem of the balls. Sachin & Laxman in Centurion. Steyn is far better bowler than anybody in this world currently as his stats 44 matches 232 wkts. oh man... absolutely stunning.

  • on December 30, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    Another great article by Aakash Chopra. Zaheer is India's best pace bowler since the days of Srinath and Prasad. He was out of form , overweight and his fitness was poor before the county stint with Worcestershire. He has become a changed bowler since then with much better work ethics, and perhaps the only consistently performing seamer for India currently. His presence in the team makes the bowling attack really potent. What a transformation from a harmless attack at Centurion to one that gave SA batsmen sleepless nights at Durban.I really hope the other bowlers perform consistently well under Zak's guidance. Sreesanth showed signs of doing so.Ishant and the likes of Munaf,RP etc too though need to learn from Zak.

  • krantiviswas on December 30, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Good article.. Zak should become more threatening.. He should improve in pace at least marginally

  • sunil_just_loves_test_cricket on December 30, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    All i have to say INDIA'S UNSUNG HERO who doesnt get limelight but always get Team India attention everytime it is who operates when we r fielding, together with Dhoni....

  • on December 30, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    Kapil Dev, Srinath and Now Zaheer are the three greatest fast bowlers to come from India...hopefully Sharma and Sree would learn from him to serve the Indian cricket in future

  • MahinMA on December 30, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Good article Aakash.....

    Undoubtedly ZAK is the India's best Pace man. There is no strong support for him from the side,

    Nehra bowls good some time, but bowl worst most of the times,

    Sreesanth's aggression on field wont work out all the times.... he leaks more runs,

    Ishant too fails often,

    Though Munaf Bow onl good line and length, his wicket taking ability is average, not bad.

    Irfan is not Srikanth's favorite to deserve a place in Indian team.....

    RP singh gone a long way out from selection panel,

    New faces r yet to be promised...

    The big worry for Indian Bowling attack is " No one is there to support ZAK in pace department"....

    The Big worry for Indian Team is " Lack of Fast bowling all-rounder "

    BCCI should generate few fast bowling all rounders to solve Indian Team's worry and reduce ZAK's burden

  • ajaysinha on December 30, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    Chopra has a knack of churning out the most technically profuse copy as if it were a child's bedtime story! Glad to read this post, it's rich with information, and even succeeds to entertain a layman. Zaheer Khan is indeed a great exponent of his craft and brings a lot to the bowling unit. In fact, he's playing the role of a mentor to perfection! Smith is indeed Zaheer's bunny!

  • on December 30, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    He's definitely an improved bowler and the only way for him now is "UP". Check out his performance in the last 4 yrs.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/30102.html?class=1;home_or_away=1;home_or_away=2;result=1;result=2;result=4;spanmax1=30+Dec+2010;spanmin1=30+Dec+2006;spanval1=span;template=results;type=bowling;view=innings

  • on December 30, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    One thing about Zaheer these days is that he don't go for a wicket every ball, but plans a wicket and works upon his plan. Sometimes you can make it from his smile before delivering a ball. The way he took Steyn in Durban in second innings was just that. 3 short pitch bowls and then one reverse swinging peach right up and Zak knew it was too much for Steyn and he was smiling before delivering the ball. I am sure he saw that wicket coming up before delivering the ball.

  • mammiar on December 30, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    The stats link showing Zak's 2006 county stint is well worth a look. The sheer number of overs bowled shows the dint of effort. Compare this to maybe S Broad's stats, and it shows Zak's performance in a very positive light. Well worth looking at for the host of other Indian fast bowlers who are struggling to make the cut - RP, Munaf, Nehra, etc. Would be interesting to see how Sreesanth's stint in county cricket helped him as well...

  • praume2001 on December 30, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    the modern Wasim Akram...still long way to go for Indian sultan of swing...

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • praume2001 on December 30, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    the modern Wasim Akram...still long way to go for Indian sultan of swing...

  • mammiar on December 30, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    The stats link showing Zak's 2006 county stint is well worth a look. The sheer number of overs bowled shows the dint of effort. Compare this to maybe S Broad's stats, and it shows Zak's performance in a very positive light. Well worth looking at for the host of other Indian fast bowlers who are struggling to make the cut - RP, Munaf, Nehra, etc. Would be interesting to see how Sreesanth's stint in county cricket helped him as well...

  • on December 30, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    One thing about Zaheer these days is that he don't go for a wicket every ball, but plans a wicket and works upon his plan. Sometimes you can make it from his smile before delivering a ball. The way he took Steyn in Durban in second innings was just that. 3 short pitch bowls and then one reverse swinging peach right up and Zak knew it was too much for Steyn and he was smiling before delivering the ball. I am sure he saw that wicket coming up before delivering the ball.

  • on December 30, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    He's definitely an improved bowler and the only way for him now is "UP". Check out his performance in the last 4 yrs.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/30102.html?class=1;home_or_away=1;home_or_away=2;result=1;result=2;result=4;spanmax1=30+Dec+2010;spanmin1=30+Dec+2006;spanval1=span;template=results;type=bowling;view=innings

  • ajaysinha on December 30, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    Chopra has a knack of churning out the most technically profuse copy as if it were a child's bedtime story! Glad to read this post, it's rich with information, and even succeeds to entertain a layman. Zaheer Khan is indeed a great exponent of his craft and brings a lot to the bowling unit. In fact, he's playing the role of a mentor to perfection! Smith is indeed Zaheer's bunny!

  • MahinMA on December 30, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Good article Aakash.....

    Undoubtedly ZAK is the India's best Pace man. There is no strong support for him from the side,

    Nehra bowls good some time, but bowl worst most of the times,

    Sreesanth's aggression on field wont work out all the times.... he leaks more runs,

    Ishant too fails often,

    Though Munaf Bow onl good line and length, his wicket taking ability is average, not bad.

    Irfan is not Srikanth's favorite to deserve a place in Indian team.....

    RP singh gone a long way out from selection panel,

    New faces r yet to be promised...

    The big worry for Indian Bowling attack is " No one is there to support ZAK in pace department"....

    The Big worry for Indian Team is " Lack of Fast bowling all-rounder "

    BCCI should generate few fast bowling all rounders to solve Indian Team's worry and reduce ZAK's burden

  • on December 30, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    Kapil Dev, Srinath and Now Zaheer are the three greatest fast bowlers to come from India...hopefully Sharma and Sree would learn from him to serve the Indian cricket in future

  • sunil_just_loves_test_cricket on December 30, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    All i have to say INDIA'S UNSUNG HERO who doesnt get limelight but always get Team India attention everytime it is who operates when we r fielding, together with Dhoni....

  • krantiviswas on December 30, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Good article.. Zak should become more threatening.. He should improve in pace at least marginally

  • on December 30, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    Another great article by Aakash Chopra. Zaheer is India's best pace bowler since the days of Srinath and Prasad. He was out of form , overweight and his fitness was poor before the county stint with Worcestershire. He has become a changed bowler since then with much better work ethics, and perhaps the only consistently performing seamer for India currently. His presence in the team makes the bowling attack really potent. What a transformation from a harmless attack at Centurion to one that gave SA batsmen sleepless nights at Durban.I really hope the other bowlers perform consistently well under Zak's guidance. Sreesanth showed signs of doing so.Ishant and the likes of Munaf,RP etc too though need to learn from Zak.