India in South Africa 2013-14 December 16, 2013

'Zaheer shouldn't drop pace' - Kumble

ESPNcricinfo staff
29

Former India bowlers Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath stressed that Zaheer Khan's form will be crucial to India's chances of doing well in the Test series against South Africa, which starts on December 18. Zaheer, who last played a Test for India against England in December 2012, was picked for the tour of South Africa and is the most experienced bowler in a pace attack comprising Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.

"Zaheer will be the leader," Kumble told The Hindu. "He will get reverse (swing) as well. [I] Just hope he bowls at his usual speed. He shouldn't drop his pace, shouldn't bowl within himself. It would be good if he can knock a few wickets upfront."

According to Srinath, Zaheer's effectiveness would depend on him bowling the right spells. "Strength and energy will be critical to Zaheer. As for line, length and strategies, he is a master at that," Srinath said to the newspaper. "It boils down to his core strength and [about] him coming in for the right spells and sustaining that energy. Another core area for Zaheer is the way he guides the other bowlers."

Zaheer is fourth on the list of leading wicket-takers in South Africa, behind Kumble, Srinath and Sreesanth. In six Tests, Zaheer has 23 wickets at an average of 32.52.

Kumble, the most successful Indian bowler in South Africa - with 45 wickets in 12 games - said that the spinners would have to deal with the challenge of additional bounce on the pitches and a softer, used ball.

"It does not spin much but you do get bounce from the surface," Kumble said. "The spinners have to take that into account when they set the field. The ball tends to get soft after 20 overs, so the spinners need to handle that in the middle overs. Between the grounds, there is not much at Johannesburg but Durban does a bit more. And if the game goes to the fourth and fifth day, the spinners will have a role."

Kumble added that R Ashwin, India's frontline spinner on his first tour to South Africa, could exploit the rough patches created by the follow-throughs of the pacers: "I enjoyed bowling there, bowling into the rough especially against a left-handed batsman. With Zaheer and hopefully (Lonwabo) Tsotsobe bowling (both being left-arm seamers), there will be a rough that Ashwin can exploit."

Both bowlers stressed that the Indian attack would have to get their lengths right, instead of merely relying on the bounce.

"The length has to be neither forward nor backward," Kumble said. "It has to be a length where after pitching, the height of the ball should be able to hit the knee roll of the pad and if the batsman snicks it, there is enough carry for the catch to be taken. You can't just release the ball, even if there is swing you need to hit the deck hard."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sri1ram on December 21, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Hehhh. Love to hear the eerie silence from the western and paki naysayers like RMCroos who keep accusing India of being flat-track bullies, mild tourers etc. Now that India seems to have the hang of the wickets in SA, beware RSA. It will be difficult to dislodge the confidence if India wins the first test.

  • OneTipOneHand on December 18, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    @blthndr - the fastest ball ZAK ever bowled in his life was 143KPH - in the ranji matches he didnt even touch 137KPH.

  • Udendra on December 17, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Kumble was the greatest indian medium-pacer.

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Given the lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, Wasim Jaffer's skills, temperament, experience and form were required in SA. Jaffer should have been the first opener for the Johannesburg Test. He is still easily the best Test opener in India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track in SA and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn,Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Jaffer was easily the first choice opener in Tests. Look at his record. Even this Ranji season, in 9 innings, he has three hundreds and a fifty. Easily the best Test / first class batsman in India today. Selectors can't ignore him now. It is high time. Enough is enough.And Jaffer is just 35.He still has 3-4 years of top level cricket left in him. Hope selectors are listening

  • Motikhar on December 16, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    I don't think there will be too many problems with bowling from Indian side. If they hunt in pack, and create pressure with proper tactics from the captain, and with guidance from Zak to other new bowlers, there will be no big problem. The problem will be batting. Despite big names, we have yet to see how they perform in the first test. If couple of major partnerships happen inside top 5 batsmen, India can have chance. All Indian players need is no panicking. Win, or even if you lose, lose with good fighting spirit, not like what you did in recent ODIs.

  • on December 16, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    The length has to be neither forward nor backward," Kumble said. "It has to be a length where after pitching, the height of the ball should be able to hit the knee roll of the pad and if the batsman snicks it, there is enough carry for the catch to be taken. You can't just release the ball, even if there is swing you need to hit the deck hard.

    -- ultimate length to bowl, esp a swing bowler on any kind of wicket. it needs dare and skill for that.

  • on December 16, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    zaheer was dropped from the team not so long ago and just that there are no enough fast bowling resources, he was drafted in. All this hype over his inclusion and projecting him as the demolition man will dwindle as soon as the saffers are put to bat. He may still get smith, but amla, AB, kallis are more than a handful. the typical sorry story of SA scoring 500, 600 plus and India meekly folding out for 150,200 with an odd fifty or hundred is going to repeat. India is gonna be blanked 2-0. Even if the indian bowlers do well, the batsmen are gonna cut a sorry figure as it is not IPL .One must remember that after the 8-0 whitewash, India hasn't played anywhere outside India and SA is a place where even greats like Sachin, RD, VVS couldn't manage a series win.

  • RMCroos on December 16, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    ohhh this india bowling team will never all out a side in test cricket!!!!

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Kumble & Srinath's comments suggest that pace is the first requisite in addition to line, length & swing. ZAK has not played much competitive cricket but appears to be fit. He has trained to conserve his energy thru' minor changes to his action. It will be the first time to try out those mods. at the International test level against a very strong batting. Even when he was half fit he was bowling well & captured a couple of England wkts. before he limped off the field. So ZAK has always been a wkt. taker. Of course he will also guide the other seamers to do things from his own observations on field. His fitness level is high but he is a bit rusty. However bowling on green top SA pitches may be an added incentive. He hits the deck at 130 to 135 KPH. Shami, Ishant & Yadev can each bowl in high 130 KPH. So it is matter of choice whether Dhoni goes with 3 or 4 seamers. India has the pace bowlers but they are less experienced than SA seamers. Can they rattle SA remains to be seen!

  • BVNaresh on December 16, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    Zaheer is a spent force and will be dealt with easily by Kallis,Amla and co.With the Wanderers known to produce steepling bounce and this in combo with perfectly pitvhed up away going deliveries the steyns,morkels and philanders will have field days not just with this Indian batting line up but believe me even with RSD,SRT and the likes.Without being pessimisstic, as an Indian fan,I am eagerly looking forward to small contests like a couple of partnerships lasting atleast for a session or getting Kallis,Amla,Devilliers out for single digits!!!

  • sri1ram on December 21, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Hehhh. Love to hear the eerie silence from the western and paki naysayers like RMCroos who keep accusing India of being flat-track bullies, mild tourers etc. Now that India seems to have the hang of the wickets in SA, beware RSA. It will be difficult to dislodge the confidence if India wins the first test.

  • OneTipOneHand on December 18, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    @blthndr - the fastest ball ZAK ever bowled in his life was 143KPH - in the ranji matches he didnt even touch 137KPH.

  • Udendra on December 17, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Kumble was the greatest indian medium-pacer.

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    Given the lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, Wasim Jaffer's skills, temperament, experience and form were required in SA. Jaffer should have been the first opener for the Johannesburg Test. He is still easily the best Test opener in India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track in SA and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn,Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Jaffer was easily the first choice opener in Tests. Look at his record. Even this Ranji season, in 9 innings, he has three hundreds and a fifty. Easily the best Test / first class batsman in India today. Selectors can't ignore him now. It is high time. Enough is enough.And Jaffer is just 35.He still has 3-4 years of top level cricket left in him. Hope selectors are listening

  • Motikhar on December 16, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    I don't think there will be too many problems with bowling from Indian side. If they hunt in pack, and create pressure with proper tactics from the captain, and with guidance from Zak to other new bowlers, there will be no big problem. The problem will be batting. Despite big names, we have yet to see how they perform in the first test. If couple of major partnerships happen inside top 5 batsmen, India can have chance. All Indian players need is no panicking. Win, or even if you lose, lose with good fighting spirit, not like what you did in recent ODIs.

  • on December 16, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    The length has to be neither forward nor backward," Kumble said. "It has to be a length where after pitching, the height of the ball should be able to hit the knee roll of the pad and if the batsman snicks it, there is enough carry for the catch to be taken. You can't just release the ball, even if there is swing you need to hit the deck hard.

    -- ultimate length to bowl, esp a swing bowler on any kind of wicket. it needs dare and skill for that.

  • on December 16, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    zaheer was dropped from the team not so long ago and just that there are no enough fast bowling resources, he was drafted in. All this hype over his inclusion and projecting him as the demolition man will dwindle as soon as the saffers are put to bat. He may still get smith, but amla, AB, kallis are more than a handful. the typical sorry story of SA scoring 500, 600 plus and India meekly folding out for 150,200 with an odd fifty or hundred is going to repeat. India is gonna be blanked 2-0. Even if the indian bowlers do well, the batsmen are gonna cut a sorry figure as it is not IPL .One must remember that after the 8-0 whitewash, India hasn't played anywhere outside India and SA is a place where even greats like Sachin, RD, VVS couldn't manage a series win.

  • RMCroos on December 16, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    ohhh this india bowling team will never all out a side in test cricket!!!!

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Kumble & Srinath's comments suggest that pace is the first requisite in addition to line, length & swing. ZAK has not played much competitive cricket but appears to be fit. He has trained to conserve his energy thru' minor changes to his action. It will be the first time to try out those mods. at the International test level against a very strong batting. Even when he was half fit he was bowling well & captured a couple of England wkts. before he limped off the field. So ZAK has always been a wkt. taker. Of course he will also guide the other seamers to do things from his own observations on field. His fitness level is high but he is a bit rusty. However bowling on green top SA pitches may be an added incentive. He hits the deck at 130 to 135 KPH. Shami, Ishant & Yadev can each bowl in high 130 KPH. So it is matter of choice whether Dhoni goes with 3 or 4 seamers. India has the pace bowlers but they are less experienced than SA seamers. Can they rattle SA remains to be seen!

  • BVNaresh on December 16, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    Zaheer is a spent force and will be dealt with easily by Kallis,Amla and co.With the Wanderers known to produce steepling bounce and this in combo with perfectly pitvhed up away going deliveries the steyns,morkels and philanders will have field days not just with this Indian batting line up but believe me even with RSD,SRT and the likes.Without being pessimisstic, as an Indian fan,I am eagerly looking forward to small contests like a couple of partnerships lasting atleast for a session or getting Kallis,Amla,Devilliers out for single digits!!!

  • toucheandsuch on December 16, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    I think Zak should be able to bowl at 135 off and on. To me, that is not as crucial as his ability to bring the ball back to the right hander. I think he had lost that skill which is why he started bowling round the wicket to get the angle. Most often that will rule out the LBW so if Zak is feeling confident, we will see him bowl mostly over the wicket. From the Ranji match reports, it appears that Zack is back!

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    this is actually funny...reading the comments that is. Steyn can reach 150kph easily, Morkel can do the same...easily. Not to sure were you see the South Africans fearing going out for 85 and 135 for when they play in these conditions week in week out facing guys that aim for your ribs, head and rists all day. Im not saying Indian bowlers are bad or anything but bowling in ODI's and bowling in Test Cricket is different. Our groundsman here usually have a pitch they prepare for shorter formats then another for the longer format. Whatever you might have learnt about lenghts in the ODI games will not be the same in the Test games. Thats why Philander does not play too many ODI's.

  • CricketChat on December 16, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    Realistically, Kumble is only trying to lift up Zaheer's spirits. It isn't like ZK dropped his pace to confuse batsmen. He just can't bowl at the same pace he bowled in his 20s. At 35+, his pace will continue to decline should he decide to play any more. Even on his best days in the past, it was his ability to swing at a decent pace that made him good bowler. If he is at the same pace as B Kumar, he won't be as effective in SA where the ball comes on the bat nicely. He must bowl with his all in this series, otherwise, it is all over him.

  • armchairjohnny on December 16, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Pace? What pace? Zak has never been a speedster. Accept him for what he is -- He's an intelligent, accurate medium pace bowler who bowls good line and length and can move the ball both ways. For some time, he's been the only Indian seam bowler worthy of being called a 'seam bowler' at International level. With that being said, I wouldn't expect miracles from him this series. He hasn't played international cricket for a long time and age is catching up him. I still expect him to comfortably out perform the other Indian 'bowlers', but that's more of a reflection on how bad the others are.

  • OneTipOneHand on December 16, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    What "pace" is Kumble talking about? At his fastest, ZAK never broke past 143KPH. Right now, his fastest ball is likely to be 130 or less!

  • pitch_curator on December 16, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    The first 20 overs would be the key in either innings. If Indian bowlers are able to get 3 to 4 wickets in that time span which is realistically possible in those conditions then it becomes easier to sustain the pressure. Amla, Kallis and ABD will be the key and they have to face the new ball for India to have a chance. After ABD the rest of the SAF batsmen do not have the capability to play long innings. Similarly, if Indian top order is able to see off the first 20 overs with only 1 wicket down, then the middle order will have an excellent opportunity to score a few runs. 350 will be a very good score in SAF. Hopefully Dhawan would have understood by now that he needs to give a LOT of respect to the new ball. Advisable not to go for the booming drive and pull/hook shots in the first 15 overs. Will be a lot of fun if our top order is up for a fight.

  • on December 16, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    no I don't think that zak will drop his pace because he bowled at a fair pace in the ranji games.I think he is one of the best of india.

  • mensan on December 16, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Well I think he can't go down further. He already has only 125-135.

  • on December 16, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    As I see it, only Dhoni's inspirational leadership combined with awesome [from who? don't ask me] bowling performances can save this test series. Realistically, this team is way too young to be winning in SA. But youth has no fear and this team is not carrying any baggage [of reputation]. I have full confidence in Pujara and Kohli and Rohit. But for them to succeed the openers need to stay at the wicket. As always, in overseas conditions it is how the opening is [either bowling or batting] that dictates the end results. Previous Indian teams have bowled out SA for 84 and 138 in their first innings to set up wins and that is what is needed now to make a fight of this series. Hopefully, it will be a good series for India.

  • kbza86 on December 16, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Indian fans and media are also not of much help!! when the Aussies and Windies were in India, the group of youngsters couldn't put a foot wrong(according to media/fans) and now with 3 bad showing they are the worst..to get to the top you have to find out what works over a period of time. let the players understand thier roles in the team...eg if Shikah is the man for India at 1/2, then let him play there for as long as possible.never change plans because of 1 or 2 failures.you guys are ruining futures of youngsters if you hype them up before a series and if they fail you want to disown!!! this is what you are going to do to Jaffer

  • kbza86 on December 16, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    why was he dropped out of the squad? because of fitness or because he was bowling badly? in international cricket, as a bowler its never easy coming back after a long lay off.. its tough coming back if you were dropped at 22/23 yrs...to make a come back at 35, only the world's best can do that...is he? is he the world's best? and he has to bowl to the current best team in world cricket..Smith is fresh from a double century, ABD is world no1, kallis has 13000+ runs and Amla is....well, he is Hashim Amla...

    And also, Philander is not express pace, he is 132/138k.but his control is unbelievable.its not all about pace.you have to bowl the right length for a VERY long period of time against class. Philander practices by tossing a coin on the right length and hitting it as often as possible(he hits it 5/6 times in an over on an average day) can zak, bhuve, UMESH, ishant and shamI do that?????

  • on December 16, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Zak needs to know that he is about to make a new start to his career. He was the not best of the lot india has ever produced but was just fairly consistent in the odi's and has a bowling average of 32 in the test which is not so good for a bowler who has played 88 test matches. He is the only indian pacer who has survived to stay in the team after comming in. This definitely has to do with the drought of bowlers india is going through right now. Zak is by the way the most horrible feilder too Anyways lets hope for the best. Shami's gotta be the one leading the pack as far as swing and pace is concerned.

  • Raghu_71 on December 16, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Ok then, when is his return ticked booked, has it been confirmed

  • on December 16, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    he can reverse(swing)the ball very well he is great bowler

  • Rohit... on December 16, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    @ IndianInnerEdge : I agree with you but right now he is the Misbah of Indian bowling line up.... Not the best bowler of the world but still India depends heavily on him... 1 small performance by Bhubaneswar and Shami made them heroes... This is the pathetic state of Indian bowling.

  • on December 16, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    I totally agree with what everybody is saying here. Zak is no 150 k bowler i assume he is barely going to bowl about 138 ks or so maybe considering his age and his fitness. The zak - Greame smith is just a hype created by the media through the stats.

  • ajmaldomintesswann on December 16, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    lolz.kumble thinks zaheer can bowl 150 kph plus.club level bowler

  • IndianInnerEdge on December 16, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    The surest indicator of a person's attitude is when they r asked2 do something different from their main skill eg a batsmen to parttime bowl, a tailend batsmen fighting it out, putting their body on the line eg Jason Gillespie, Glenn Mcg, Saqlain(whilst batting) or givingtheir all whilst fielding. ZAK has a pathetic attitude2fielding, is one of worst outfielders& has a terrible throw. The less said the better about his batting, no willingness to wear a few on his body for his country. Bowling - 'Shouldnt Drop his pace?!!! what pace?!!!-135K for the first 8 opening overs and then 125+ for all next spells, chill out on the thirdman boundary&wait for the 2nd new ball-is how he spent the latter part of 2011 early 2012 on the Aus tour 4-0 loss. Looking at how he is being hyped up as India's answer to pace problems,&our fans/bloggers believing this, we are in for a massive let down. The whole Graeme smith vs zak scenario is total media hype! I am an indian supporter and hope am proven wrong

  • blthndr on December 16, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    i dont think zaheer dropped his pace....in ranji match he bowled at good speed between 135 to 145 kph....bt thing to look for if he can maintain it for longer period and not get injured....

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  • blthndr on December 16, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    i dont think zaheer dropped his pace....in ranji match he bowled at good speed between 135 to 145 kph....bt thing to look for if he can maintain it for longer period and not get injured....

  • IndianInnerEdge on December 16, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    The surest indicator of a person's attitude is when they r asked2 do something different from their main skill eg a batsmen to parttime bowl, a tailend batsmen fighting it out, putting their body on the line eg Jason Gillespie, Glenn Mcg, Saqlain(whilst batting) or givingtheir all whilst fielding. ZAK has a pathetic attitude2fielding, is one of worst outfielders& has a terrible throw. The less said the better about his batting, no willingness to wear a few on his body for his country. Bowling - 'Shouldnt Drop his pace?!!! what pace?!!!-135K for the first 8 opening overs and then 125+ for all next spells, chill out on the thirdman boundary&wait for the 2nd new ball-is how he spent the latter part of 2011 early 2012 on the Aus tour 4-0 loss. Looking at how he is being hyped up as India's answer to pace problems,&our fans/bloggers believing this, we are in for a massive let down. The whole Graeme smith vs zak scenario is total media hype! I am an indian supporter and hope am proven wrong

  • ajmaldomintesswann on December 16, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    lolz.kumble thinks zaheer can bowl 150 kph plus.club level bowler

  • on December 16, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    I totally agree with what everybody is saying here. Zak is no 150 k bowler i assume he is barely going to bowl about 138 ks or so maybe considering his age and his fitness. The zak - Greame smith is just a hype created by the media through the stats.

  • Rohit... on December 16, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    @ IndianInnerEdge : I agree with you but right now he is the Misbah of Indian bowling line up.... Not the best bowler of the world but still India depends heavily on him... 1 small performance by Bhubaneswar and Shami made them heroes... This is the pathetic state of Indian bowling.

  • on December 16, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    he can reverse(swing)the ball very well he is great bowler

  • Raghu_71 on December 16, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Ok then, when is his return ticked booked, has it been confirmed

  • on December 16, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Zak needs to know that he is about to make a new start to his career. He was the not best of the lot india has ever produced but was just fairly consistent in the odi's and has a bowling average of 32 in the test which is not so good for a bowler who has played 88 test matches. He is the only indian pacer who has survived to stay in the team after comming in. This definitely has to do with the drought of bowlers india is going through right now. Zak is by the way the most horrible feilder too Anyways lets hope for the best. Shami's gotta be the one leading the pack as far as swing and pace is concerned.

  • kbza86 on December 16, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    why was he dropped out of the squad? because of fitness or because he was bowling badly? in international cricket, as a bowler its never easy coming back after a long lay off.. its tough coming back if you were dropped at 22/23 yrs...to make a come back at 35, only the world's best can do that...is he? is he the world's best? and he has to bowl to the current best team in world cricket..Smith is fresh from a double century, ABD is world no1, kallis has 13000+ runs and Amla is....well, he is Hashim Amla...

    And also, Philander is not express pace, he is 132/138k.but his control is unbelievable.its not all about pace.you have to bowl the right length for a VERY long period of time against class. Philander practices by tossing a coin on the right length and hitting it as often as possible(he hits it 5/6 times in an over on an average day) can zak, bhuve, UMESH, ishant and shamI do that?????

  • kbza86 on December 16, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Indian fans and media are also not of much help!! when the Aussies and Windies were in India, the group of youngsters couldn't put a foot wrong(according to media/fans) and now with 3 bad showing they are the worst..to get to the top you have to find out what works over a period of time. let the players understand thier roles in the team...eg if Shikah is the man for India at 1/2, then let him play there for as long as possible.never change plans because of 1 or 2 failures.you guys are ruining futures of youngsters if you hype them up before a series and if they fail you want to disown!!! this is what you are going to do to Jaffer