|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Abhishek Purohit in Auckland
February 8, 2014
'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."
|Comments have now been closed for this article
A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement
His rapid improvement with the ball has been integral to England coming from behind to lead the series - but that is just one area where Moeen Ali continues to impress
After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways
For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset
His decisions in the England series have seemed to confirm that he does not care too much for the Test game. Maybe he should be concentrating on the World Cup
With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests