New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day February 8, 2014

One of our top spells as a unit - Zaheer


'Brilliant slip catches made the difference' - Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan has said that dismissing New Zealand for 105 was one of the best collective Indian bowling efforts he has been part of. The performance brought India back from a first-innings deficit of 301, and Zaheer said the visitors had gained the advantage, having ended the day on 87 for 1 in their pursuit of 407.

"Definitely one of the top spells we have bowled as a unit," Zaheer said. "Brilliant performance by the bowlers. As a bowling unit we clicked. It was a collective effort. That is what is crucial when we get teams out for low totals. Last time I remember was in Trinidad in 2001, (when) we had a similar kind of innings where all the bowlers chipped with three wickets. That was a collective effort."

Ishant Sharma was the most successful of the Indian bowlers with a match haul of nine wickets, and Zaheer said it was good to see him convert his experience of 54 Tests into results. "He has come a long way. It is important that he picks up wickets. He has been around for a while. Definitely has the potential to create that impact at this level and happy that he is among the wickets."

Backing up the bowlers were Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane, whose sharp catches accounted for the key wickets of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. India had dropped a few in the first innings, and Zaheer said it was crucial they held them this time. "Important thing was brilliant catching as well in the slip cordon. We held our catches and that really made a difference."

India's lengths were also different to the ones they bowled in the first innings. Their fast bowlers had overdone the short ball as New Zealand racked up 503 but the lengths were fuller in the second innings. Zaheer said different strategies were at work both times. "That was the plan in the first innings. We wanted to be aggressive as a bowling unit," he said. "Bowling bouncers was one of our plans. In the second innings we went in with the approach that we have to focus on bowling areas and that really worked for us."

Zaheer said the pressure created by the Indian attack, and not the Eden Park pitch, was the reason for New Zealand's capitulation. "Pitch is looking good. What really got to them was the pressure I guess and some disciplined bowling by our bowlers. I don't think the pitch has changed a great deal. In fact, it has got better, if at all."

The pitch did not offer much as the ball got older. It was the new ball that produced wickets in the first three innings, and Zaheer said it was crucial to make it count. "With the Kookaburra ball, it is important to get those early breakthroughs and with the new ball there is always a bit more help. It is good that we have seen off the new ball today and tomorrow hopefully will be a better day for us."

India survived the new ball for the loss of only M Vijay and Zaheer said they were in front now. "Definitely. The momentum is with us and we will look to capitalise on that. It was important that we have a good start, which we got today. So it's important to start well tomorrow morning."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • YogifromNY on February 8, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    @Zaheer Hussain - you are right on! This Ind team BADLY needs to be sent to fielding camp. Why can't BCCI with all its vast riches hire Jonty Rhodes or someone like that to do intensive, daily fielding drills with the players?

    And can they hire a decent bowling coach to replace the useless one they have right now? How can the bowlers time and time again keep bowling short at their ridiculously slow speeds and expect not to be tonked around?

    In Australia, Craig McDermott has instilled a simple mantra into his bunch of talented fast bowlers: "Pitch it up." That, coupled with impeccable lines has yielded rich results for the Aussies. And yet India, with all the experience that Zaheer has and the claim that he a thinking fast bowler and mentor to the juniors, keep bowling short and wide. And are then surprised why opposition teams regularly run up huge scores against them!

  • ram91106 on February 8, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    @Ajanthan Shantiratnam...Win or lose...we can be proud of this young Indian squad...they have given every team they have faced a run for their money...I am talking about test cricket not ODIs...yes we have not won..but as this line-up gets more exposure and experience in tough overseas condition this team will gather steam...exciting times ahead for us Indian fans...if Ishant can be our Jimmy Anderson or Mitch Johnson all the more sweeter...before everyone starts LOLing...look at their stats for the first half of their careers...Ishant is 24...Anderson has bowled exceptionally well after2209...6 years after his debut...he is 31 now...Johnson is 32...we can extend some more rope to Ishant...he is the only bowler who can hit the deck hard and has good height too...9 wickets in this match...hoping Ishant's golden run begins now a la Anderson...

  • dummy4fb on February 8, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    iIt is easier said that not enforcing follow on was a wrong decision 'cause if NZ would have ended the day with more than 500 runs lead then everybody would have praised Mc Cullum.....its just beacause of Indian fast bowling which clicked at the right time.

  • dummy4fb on February 8, 2014, 16:04 GMT

    It was a fine day for India after the first hour, but lets not get too carried away. Regardless of Zaheer's claims, its still advantage New Zealand. The morning session is difficult for batsmen and ZNZ have a quality bowling unit led by Southee and Boult. A couple of early wickets, New Zealand will be back in charge. 407 is a lot of runs!.

  • dummy4fb on February 8, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    With some dozen catches dropped in the first innings, even Mitch Johnson, Steyn and Philander in combination would have had tough time restricting NZ to below 500. No bowler or batsman can win a match if the catches are dropped like the way they did in the first innings. So instead of replacing this batsman or that bowler, send all India players to fielding boot camp.

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on February 8, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    I dont think to not ask india follow on was wrong as they would have taken advantage and would have taken around 200 lead and then in the forth innings jadeja could have been difficult to face for NZ. It is on india now to face the music and if they chase they will be doing a record off course.

  • S.Jagernath on February 8, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    Watching them bowl was truly exciting.India needed to come out with serious intent & aggression & they really turned it on.The match now is anyone's really,India have the batsmen,New Zealand have good bowlers & a fairly responsive surface.

  • sandeepsingh19 on February 8, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    @ cheguramana..u r exactly right...till nw, on overseas tours, India won only due to miraculous performances by individuals, but nvr as a team as they do at home. This needs to be improved, watever BCCI hav to change, shud b changed for a gud future. First, tracks all over India coz, nw those days r ovr wen Indians were best at spin & played spin well. See recently, in ODI Nathan Mcullum hav better avg against both of our spinner. U cn compare Nathan Lyon avg with them. Evn in India Panesar snatches series win frm them last year.Tail enders batting is also cause of concern(lyon, mitchell, ryan harris contributed more than Indian tail enders are doing). It is nt like that I m nt Indian fan, I m die hard fan of team India, bt these things need to be addressed permanently a) tracks at home, b) fielding coaches for specialised position trainin c) batting by tail enders d) quality spinner who can spin on any surface & atleast stop run flow of runs e) work on bench strength of fast bowlers..

  • blthndr on February 8, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    @Ashley McCormack.....u r right on the money....thats the way most of us.....comments change day to day according to the performance....

  • android_user on February 8, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    india will lose the match as they are not good enough any way so called big three RIP cricket

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