South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 2nd day

Where's the fight gone, Zaheer?

Zaheer Khan used to be a tailender who could contribute with the bat, but he does not seem to have the will to tough it out anymore

Sidharth Monga in Durban

December 27, 2013

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Zaheer Khan threw his wicket away in the first innings in Durban © AFP

A timeline of Zaheer's failings

  • December 28, 2011: India are battling for a first-innings lead after they bowled Australia out for 333 in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. They have had good partnerships, but Australia have broken them. At 259 for 8, Zaheer withdraws to the leg side, shows James Pattinson all three pegs, heaves wildly, and is bowled for 4 off six balls. His partner at the time: R Ashwin, on 10. India concede a lead, and go on to lose.
  • January 13, 2012: Batting first at the WACA Ground, India are under the pump at 152 for 7. Zaheer joins MS Dhoni, who needs support. However, he starts swinging blindly, refusing to stand in front of the stumps. Zaheer finally edges one. India lose by an innings.
  • January 26, 2012: After conceding 604, India are struggling on a good batting pitch in Adelaide. Kohli is fighting hard, toiling to show he belongs at Test level. He is on 91, and has just lost Ashwin, but is hoping someone will stick around. Zaheer flails at his first delivery outside off and departs for a duck, leaving Kohli despondent. India go on to lose the game.
  • November 26, 2012: India are barely in the game in the second innings at the Wankhede Stadium, against England, and need a target to defend. Gautam Gambhir is batting on 61, and India are only 45 ahead, but Zaheer slog-sweeps at Monty Panesar and is caught for 1 off 11 balls. India lose again.
  • December 19, 2013: Kohli has scored a hundred at the Wanderers, the first Indian to show fight on the tour. However, India are threatening to throw away the advantage on the second morning. Zaheer walks out to join a fighting R Ashwin, but moves about in the crease before offering no shot to a quick straight delivery, and is lbw first ball. India are bowled out for 280, but their bowlers do a good job, and one of the greatest draws of all time is played out.
  • December 27, 2013: India are up against Dale Steyn, who is finding form after more than 70 wicketless overs: 198 for 1 became 199 for 4, but two half-century stands have taken the score to 320 for 6. Ajinkya Rahane is nearing a fifty and India need to make 400 to shut out a defeat in a Test that has already lost close to two sessions to bad weather. If India eliminate defeat, they eliminate a series defeat, a big achievement for a transitioning side in South Africa. Zaheer comes in at No. 8, and is given strike by Rahane, who is now on 49. He backs away and swings at the first ball he faces and edges behind. India are bowled out for 334 - last five wickets gone for 14 - and they could still lose the game.

Almost every time Zaheer Khan has come to bat in the last three years, with the match still alive and his contribution vital, he hasn't - for some reason - shown willingness to get behind the line of the ball, or fought for the sake of the better batsman at the other end (see sidebar). He has collected eight ducks over this period, taking his tally to 29. Only five cricketers have more.

Zaheer wasn't always like this. He once played an important role in saving a Test by scoring an unbeaten 57 off 121 balls with Harbhajan Singh for company. He followed that innings with a sledge at his opponents, Australia, saying they couldn't even get Harbhajan and him out, and went on to win the series for India with the ball. Something has gone wrong with Zaheer the batsman in the last two years or so, and it is hurting India because they know he can contribute crucial runs if he applies himself.

Zaheer has been an invaluable bowler for India. He has been a great mentor for the younger bowlers. Nobody can, or should try to, take that away from him. When he bats like he did in Durban, though, and like he has done in the recent past, it sends wrong signals to the opposition and to his own team-mates. For starters, Zaheer's wicket and the one that fell before him seems like the beginning of a collapse, and it's difficult for Ishant Sharma to quell the opposition's momentum.

Ishant has always treated Zaheer as a guru. Maybe it is time for Zaheer to learn a few lessons from the apprentice. Even against the fastest bowlers, and in the trickiest conditions, Ishant tries his best to get behind deliveries. When Zaheer left Kohli on 91 in Adelaide, it was Ishant who saw the youngster through to a century that told him he belonged in top-flight Test cricket. Kohli was India's only gain during the 0-4 whitewash.

Today in Durban, with Ashwin dropped and Zaheer batting the way he is, India's batting practically ended at No. 7. Given the fine margins and micro management of the modern game, it is surprising India have neither worked on Zaheer's batting nor demoted him down the order. It was also surprising that Rahane took a single off the first ball of the 109th over, although that could have much to do with this being only his third Test. The leadership team needs to step in there again.

This is not to bag Zaheer, who has bravely fought his body to play 90 Tests and take 300 wickets. He has quite a few deserved allowances in the team. Zaheer is not expected to dive around and save runs. That can be overlooked. However, batting - or the effort put into batting - for a specialist bowler in modern cricket is as important as fielding - or the effort put into fielding - is for a specialist batsman. Especially when you aren't a complete mug.

This is not to blame Zaheer for the predicament India are in. However, the impact of such performances accumulates over time. For those who think criticising Zaheer's batting is making a mountain out of a molehill, this is what MS Dhoni said in 2010, incidentally in Durban, when India were the No. 1 Test side: "We have done really well. We have played some good, consistent cricket. As a team we have done well. Every one has contributed: bowlers or the batsmen or the fielders. The part-timers have contributed in getting wickets, at the same time the lower order has really contributed quite consistently throughout the year.

"One of the important things was the lower-order contribution. Over the years it has really changed. The lower-order batsmen have put a price on their wicket. They have contributed along with the batsmen. At the same time if the batsmen get out, they are able to score runs. Which really helps, and frustrates the opposition."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

its not only zaheer.What about Rohit Sharma & Jadeja?Nobidy speaks about them.Rohit is very much over rated and Jadeja should bat below Ishant.

Posted by ali14pakistani on (December 28, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

Yes send Zaheer in as opener!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by SherjilIslam on (December 28, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

Article is OK and the intent is missing in Zaheer to slog it out in the middle but still you can't single him out for the failures of our lower order. The best that can be done is to change his batting position to no. 11 where he doesn't carry any expectation of Sid Monga or anyone for that matter. Also, what is your take on the way Sir Jadeja and Lord Sharma's much hyped batting??

Posted by ali14pakistani on (December 28, 2013, 10:58 GMT)

Prediction - India lose by an innings on day 5.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

I think this is the last test for Zaheer, he looks so tired bowling 125 kph which is not acceptable at all. Even out of those 4 wickets in Jo'burg 2 were of tailenders, and second Inning's only wicket of Kallis was a lucky one.

He needs to be dropped for upcoming tours and we must have faith in our upcoming young bowlers, just like we showed faith in our young batsmen and they are delivering. Varun Aaron, Parvinder Awana, Ishwar Pandey are few who can bowl consistently with some serious pace.

Posted by VinodGupte on (December 28, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

now, do a similar piece on MSD and ask "where are the runs gone when you are batting overseas, MSD?"

does anyone else think that team india is carrying MSD in the test team? Look, he is phenomenal in the other formats. quite a match-winner. but when it comes to tests, especially overseas, he is a burden. DK, for instance, can apply himself better than MSD in test abroad.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (December 28, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

Unless he gets bags of wickets in this test, hopefully this is his last test. Pathetic attitude, the 29 at wanderers was a one off and bloggers keep referring to that, what about the dozen odd occasions when a little bit of application and the preparedness to wear a few on the body for the side would have if not changed the results but would have surely taken the matches closer?Unless he strikes bigtime in this test, india have regressed in going back to a 125-135kmph trundler who has attitude to burn....kudos to SM to voice what several have been witnessing since the end of 2011 CWC

Posted by irishhawks on (December 28, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

Cm on Somebody there said we shouldn't expect zaheer to make runs for them! sorry mate West Indies didn't expect walsh and ambrose to score runs for them either but they battled for their Team in that famous 1999 Barbados Test match against Australia where Lara scored 153 not out....They didn't score much but they fought it out...We don't expect much runs but we expect Fight...Remember Harbhajan or Kumble ?

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

Time for India to look beyond Zak.

Posted by Arslan_Javed on (December 28, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

Thank God we came to know that after famous Tendulkar Hundreds VS defeats ( in theory at least) indian loss of test matches by one innings and so are merely due to a stretched fact that their supreme bowler is not scoring runs or staying at wickets. Come on guys give them a break.

Posted by ramli on (December 28, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

We all know MSD does not have good batting record overseas ... but at least he battles hard to score some decent runs curbing his natural instinct of hitting out ... ZK needs to apply himself in batting as he does in bowling ... otherwise the very essence of competing is lost and it hurts India very badly in close matches ...

Posted by junaid_bhai on (December 28, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

C'mon Monga, you are expecting no 8 or 9 batsman to deliver. this is ridiculous, where the upper order gone. Zaheer is in team for his bowling not for his batting

Posted by sarangsrk on (December 28, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Spot on, Sid. Not just these examples, I remember lot of matches in the WC 2011 where the lower order including Harbhajan and Zaheer went for glory shots. Its not that they can't bat or didn't have support at the other end. For ex- WC Semis against Pak where Raina was playing very smartly and needed just the strike but first bhajji tried swinging against Ajmal and got bowled. Then Zaheer perished. I don't like Zaheer's attitude. Even after being thrown out of the team and knowing the importance of this match, much more is expected from the senior most player of the squad. To top it all, he is not putting world on fire with his bowling either. Acting too pricey..

Posted by Emancipator007 on (December 28, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

Monga is one of the best " psychoanalyzers" of the playing approaches of batsmen & bowlers (VVS one was a pearler).Ayaz Memon,Raju Bharatan & Rajan Bala were similarly gifted. But here, I think cos of the pressures of daily reporting & generating multiple features has made him go a bit astray. Punidts,fans fail to realize that Zak knows what he is DOING nowadays! That he cannot defend anymore & feels he will add more value by tonking a few, which he is well capable cos of his tremendous batswing & hitting prowess (off pace or spin) when he connects (saw that 29!). When competent & much younger bowler-bats like Broad, Bresnan (did y'all see Bres, the all-rounder!),Anderson while facing steaming Mitch were ready to hit out & rush to pavilion, why is Zak at 35 pilloried for hit-n-miss. Zak is a superb 6-hitter &shud be advised to play similar game (any run shud be considered bonus).C.Martin,Walsh,Dillon were never expected to score runs.

Posted by srinideva on (December 28, 2013, 5:52 GMT)

Most of the peoples don`t understand what the author is trying to say here. Yes the batsmans failed. But that doesn`t give you any authority to show your dream shots in an International match. Need more application there from the tail end.nFinally Rohit sharma back into form as a Nohit.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

Honestly zaheer isnt much of a batsman, however the shot he played to get out lacked application. I think it was dhoni's dismissal that set collapse, dhoni is the greatest Indian captain but lacks technique when the bowl is pitched outside offstump and moves. Looking ahead I think India should invest in Dinesh kartik or Sanju Sampson for the test matches and utilize Dhoni in the limited overs cricket. Sir Jadeja is a brilliant fielder , his bowling is okay for limited over cricket and not for test match cricket and honestly not much of a batsman in test match.

Posted by ramesh28 on (December 28, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

Well said Sid..If we look at teams those are doing good in test crickets, lower order contribution is much important. If lower order batsmen started to contribute and if they stay at crease longer time then opposition team also get irritated. India's had risen to number 1 ranking in test in past, same for England case and in SA case, And what Australia doing from so many years, their lower order contributed every time. But in this new look Indian team, they struggling to contribute and those are crucial runs. This team doing very very well, and i'm sure they can improve in this department also in coming time. They proved that those are wrong who doubted on their ability before this series start.

But i'm worrying about this SA team, they are currently no. 1 ranked in test. But still they are giving excuses of flat pitches. And if they are unable to take wicket then they criticizing pitch for not helping them. God knows if they come to India then how they prove themselve no. 1..

Posted by Karunk on (December 28, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

Monga- Good article. Zaheer used to contribute with bat in early days. As writer has pointed, in last 2-3 years, he does not show any intent to stay at the wicket. He moves to the leg side and tries to heave every ball. It looks pathetic from a senior pro. Many comments have praised his 29 runs in the first innings. It was a lucky innings and would have got out anytime. Not sure why Dhoni sends him as no.9 batsman. Ishant is much better and shows lot of intent to give stand to the other batsman. It is not right to expect runs from tail enders but they can give stand to the senior batsman. Rahane was playing well at the other end. He needed someone to stay at the wicket. Again there are many comments about Monga not writing about Rohit. Why only Rohit? Dhoni played a very poor shot. There is not point in writing about Shikar, Rohit & Dhoni. They would like to prove to the world that they are flat track bullies. The moment ball starts bouncing & seaming, they chicken out.

Posted by drallion on (December 28, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

Good article on one of the two liabilities in the team. Zaheer fought vainly in 2003 World Cup by bowling wildely short to the Aussies in the final and staring down the batsmen when his pace was not that furious to trouble the Aussies. Wasted opportunity. Srinath as the senior did not help as he too bowled too short; but at least he had the pace while ZK did not. Since then ZK's pace has dropped, his batting is pathetic as he is a walking wicket; any school boy pacer can take him out. His fielding is bad, not for modern cricket. He does not chase nor does he dive to stop a ball. Why select him for some silly reason while promising youngsters are left out cold? Do the selectors have any idea or an answer to thi?

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 3:32 GMT)

When the tail fights, it sends a signal to the opposition that the team is fighting and unwilling to cave in.

Its quite simple. Zak needs to lead the way here and own up and front the bowling not throw his bat at the ball.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 3:24 GMT)

What about Rahane farming the strike. In his eagerness to score a half century he sacrificed the interests of the team. He was a set batsman and should have shielded the bowlers instead of taking one run from the very first ball of the over thus exposing lesser and newer batsman to five balls.

Posted by theRule19 on (December 28, 2013, 3:12 GMT)

Why are we even counting on Zaheer to perform with the bat. If only he can do his job well with the ball that should be enough. The Indian batting, however, was so careless and lethargic, it was boring to see. Barring the 2nd wicket partnership between Vijay and Pujara, Day 2 was absolutely forgetful for the Indians. Pathetic batting display. started with Vijay so as to blame. For Rohit, its high time he gets used to the conditions as the second innings will be even tougher to bat. You cannot have a whole series to get accustomed to the conditions. Same goes for many other Indian batsmen.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 2:46 GMT)

The points made are valid. Lower order runs are crucial. But one could almost see what he was trying to do. He knew with Steyn on full throttle, his fragile defensive techniques won't be enough and the only other way around is hit-out-of-the-jail. You never know, had de Villiers not taken that blinder, Zak could have rode his luck and scored a 20 ball 35. Although I agree with the idea of demoting him. I don't really know asking a senior player like Zak to come at No. 11 would turn out.

Posted by mahi678 on (December 28, 2013, 2:41 GMT)

i dont know why people put blame on bowlers? whats the batsman at other end doing? first think if zaheer is batsman or bowler. if zaheer to blamed, he should be blamed in first test too. zaheer played same way as did first test. why not batsman at other end took most of the strike. dhoni should tell tailnders to play defensively in all situations and batsman should take most of the strike while tailenders at crease.

Posted by Vnott on (December 28, 2013, 2:32 GMT)

Attiduinally Zaheer as a batsman is everything that can go wrong. Extremely disappointing and perplexing. Sid Mongia is bang on when he says Zaheer was not like this. He used to fight. It is okay for a tailender to fail. But not being able to make the bowlers earn the wicket is actually quite sad. Wonder why the team management do not pull him up. they shd

Posted by passion4indiancric on (December 28, 2013, 2:30 GMT)

I think Rohit Sharma who shouldered arms (closing his eyes and mind) to a ball on the stumps; Jadeja who is christened Sir for doing NOTHING, Dhawan who can twirl his mush and has done little after his debut should be shown the door. The Indian team is carrying 3 dead weights, instead pick Gambhir who has more spunk than most to fight, Irfan or Binny and Manoj Tiwari or someone better.

Posted by CherryWood_Champion on (December 28, 2013, 2:27 GMT)

Hi Sid ... For the first time, I am quite surprised by your analysis. If you are talking about players from 9 to 11 ... they ought to be bowlers. Analyze your bowling ... when our main batsmen like Rohit,Dhoni & Jadeja do not perform, we have no right to even think or expect Zak to contribute as a batsman.

Posted by Nampally on (December 28, 2013, 2:16 GMT)

Sid, It is futile to blame Zaheer for not contributing with bat when the star batsman Rohit Sharma has failed in all 3 appearances so far! ZAK is a bowler not a batsman! ZAK did his bit in the First test with 29 runs - more than Rohit's total in 3 iinings. Jadeja, who replaced Ashwin, is a huge Flop in batting! He scores triple centuries in Ranji but "Ducks" in Test Matches. Rohit & Jadeja are included in Xi by Dhioni for their batting. India cannot have "floaters" in the XI. If Ashwin needed to be cut, bring in a genuine bowler like Ojha. Ashwin is a much better batsman than Jadeja. Dhoni's irrational XI has only 4 bowlers- 3 of them had just 3 days rest after their marathon effort in the First test! Yadev + Ojha in place of Rohit & Jadeja were badly needed to restrict over stretching ZAK, Ishant & Shami. SA already showed up the Indian bowling with 82 for no loss in 20 overs! How will India fare on Day 3 with just 4 bowlers remains to be seen - 5 regular bowlers is minimum reqmt!

Posted by Rags57 on (December 28, 2013, 2:10 GMT)

This failing of the lower order has returned since Zaheer's return to the Indian team - Ojha, Ishant, Ashwin have all put a price on their wickets but Zaheer's callous approach is despicable. I am not sure why we need to persist with him. Even his bowling at the end of the day was without fire - lots of freebies and few threatening balls. Saying he just needs to turn up to get Smith was going one step too far. As a cricketer if you are not modest and are not prepared to give your 200% for the team (like Steyn did yesterday) you should walk out or be shown the door. India can do well without Zaheer just as they have shown they can do well without the likes of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman. We need complete team players and not people who play for themselves. Hope the team management and the selection committee do the needful before the next series.

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 28, 2013, 2:08 GMT)

Zaheer has never tried to face up to real pace. It is only when facing spinners and medium pacers that he tries to play a batsman like innings, if he is facing someone like Steyn then his best bet is to go for the shots.

Posted by R.Vijay1 on (December 28, 2013, 1:48 GMT)

Indian tail enders will continue to have a torrid time with the bounce and chin music they have to face to stay in the crease in South Africa. When they play at home on slower pitches the tail end can perform. However in SA we are seeing senior batsman taking hits on their body and helmets. How do we expect our tail enders to stay in the crease for an extended period of time. We can't blame Zaheer as every country will have this problem if the tail is subject to sustained chin music at 140 KM plus speeds with no respite from either end. Have to accept this situation as is and not be hard on the tail enders

Posted by ABHI-DCricketFan on (December 28, 2013, 1:25 GMT)

I think it is time kohli is given the captaincy in test cricket and Dhoni and his favourite rohit Sharma are shown the door. Sharma needs a decade more to prove himself and Dhoni in tests outside the subcontinent is no less a liability than Mr. talented. Kartik is a far better batsman than Dhoni in test matches

Posted by S.Seshachalam on (December 28, 2013, 1:22 GMT)

Not only his batting. His bowling is also a concern of late. He failed to deliver in the 2nd innings of the first test due to which India was denied a well deserved victory. Questions need to be asked now. What was the value add in bringing back Zaheer into the test team. He is past 35 and definitely past his prime. Selectors need to chat with him and look for younger talent.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2013, 0:53 GMT)

As far as Zaheer is concerned, he looks fit but i guess he has past his prime. Bowling wise he is ok but his batting is poor. With Ashwin dropped, India's batting was going to be very lean. Dhoni is still not a test player. He lacks the technique and discipline and could be tagged in as a tail-ender atleast outside the sub-continent. As far as Rohit and Sir Jaddu are concerned, cricekters who r good enough have good patches and an odd bad patch. But these are not good enough and hence have had a good patch and suddenly people expect more from both of them. In India, most of the players look great. Even the Aussies were surprised with Bailey. But outside, Rohit does not have the attitude to apprach an innings. Jaddu had lost India 2 T-20 tournaments, so it was law of average that he had to help India win a tournament and that was the Champions Trpphy. While Jaddu is not good enough as a Test player, Rohit has had too many chances and just failed almost everytime.

Posted by CricketLifer on (December 28, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

Zaheer is indeed a walking wicket, seldom contributing with bat or for that matter with fielding. The attitude seems to be this is not my job and if I don't exert myself doing batting and fielding then I can perhaps extend my bowling career a bit longer. This is not a team player and the lack of fight has to be morale issue for rest of the team. I think India also needs to be more ruthless in cutting under performers. Our bowling in general has been a suspect for last 2-3 years and we have done almost nothing to bring in new blood with the recent exception of Shami. The only batsmen showing some resolve and fight are Vijay, Pujara, Kohli and Rahne. Dhoni has been subpar and Rohit and Jadeja lacking. Our last 4-5 wickets can be had for 20-40 runs in most matches!

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (December 28, 2013, 0:29 GMT)

This article makes no sense. Why does Sid think Zaheer needs to contribute with the bat. Zak's primary role is as bowler. He is supposed to contribute with the ball, not with the bat. Asking Zak to contribute with the bat is the same as asking Sachin or Dravid to take at least a wicket in each match. In the first test Zak's 29 runs saved India from certain defeat.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

Very unfair & very biased article. Remember Glen Mcgrath / Chandrasekhar & the likes - they all did best what they were primarily picked in the team for. So is Zaheer - doing his level best for what he was picked in the team for - BOWLING. Dear Siddarth, focus on the BATSMEN who are in the team for their batting & are failing to deliver. Leave Zaheer alone - we need Bowlers who can win games for us - Zaheer is one such bowler - stop being negative about him. Dr. Ahad Khan

Posted by thiruven on (December 27, 2013, 22:38 GMT)

How about Rohit Sharma? Flat Track bully needs to be shown the door immediately. Drops catches too. Zaheer is a bowler and has done this role with aplomb.

Posted by gasmutai on (December 27, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

I am deeply concerned about three players here : Dhawan, Rohit and Jadeja. Seeing his exploits in India, I was hoping that Dhawan is able to take on the opener slot and do well; performances seem to indicate otherwise. I am not a professional player nor am I a coach, but his technique of facing fast blowing on helpful conditions is definitely found wanting. So is the case with Rohit - so much potential but not living upto it. Jadeja's selection is baffling to say the least - he may yet make me eat my words with a solid bowling performance (I pray that he does). Clearly we are a long way away from finding a combination that can win consistently (or atleast fight really well) in all conditions. Is it maybe time to strip Dhoni of captaincy and put Virat at the helm much like how SA entrusted Smith to do the job at a very young age?

Posted by LegSpinBowlr on (December 27, 2013, 21:52 GMT)

Lower order contribution is only a bonus to the team, one cant blame the lower order for their batting approach, scoring runs is the responsibility of the top order and the wicketkeeper, and its not like the lower order was facing west indies bowlers they are facing a world no1 pace attack, i think the trio of dhoni, jadeja and rohit should contribute a little bit more than what they are doing right now. Dhoni made a wrong move by excluding ashwin and including jadeja as he might have expected sir jaddu to be a better batsman than ashwin, which might be true only in sub continent conditions. Hope india make a better fight tomorrow like the first test match.

Posted by fguy on (December 27, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

until we are finally rid of has-been Zak & never-was Ishant we'll never win. they had 2 good sessions on a wicket which did all the work for them but soon as it's even slightly flat they struggle. Zak's coming around the wicket is something i'll never understand.

also, what an irresponsible shot to play when you have a batsmen set at the other end. but then what can you expect? remember he & Ishant are major contributors to 0-8 defeats. we saw how having batsmen diff from those teams has helped us so its time to give diff bowlers a chance.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

Nice article Sid ! I hope the coach tells him to hold his calm for a little while specially when a proper batsman is batting at the other end. If he can play 20-30 balls even without scoring anything is fine and will eventually help the team.Today while Zaheer walked in, I exactly knew what he is going to do. To heave at every ball thrown at him and he did exactly that in the very first ball. I can see a lot of people talking about the 29 he scored in the 2nd innings of last Test. even then he was taking too many chances but was lucky to have survived and scored those boundaries by fluke. Coming to the batting order I think Rahane should be batting ahead of Rohit Sharma. Rohit's dismissal is undoing all the hard work of Pujara, Kohli and Vijay,

Posted by DhamaKa19 on (December 27, 2013, 21:35 GMT)

Dear Monga... In the column you mentioned about the losses. The team has already lost a major battle when a no.10 is down there with Gambhir with 45 lead. What did you expect ? Zak to score like Gilly ? The blame should be on the impotent batting line up for the loses. 30 overs and no wickets... yeah... then prolly we are talking something sense.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

Zak - where has the fight gone not only with the bat but ESPECIALLY with the ball? Unless you do well in the remainder of this Test, you may want to retire after this series.

Posted by roook on (December 27, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

Bowlers are like to be that way he is not a allrounder and he knows he lacks defensive stroke against this bowling attack. Instead more point of concern is rohit and dhawan they need a talk. Set batsman needs to be assertive towards tailender sometimes I recall how dhoni handled in close india srilanka final in Caribbean

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

Jadeja replaced Ashwin , the world's top all rounder at the moment. One therefore expects Jadeja to contribute with the willow as well. To be out for a duck is totally unacceptable. But Jaddu has been failing with the bat often in overseas wickets. Wonder if the selectors chose him as an all rounder or as a bowler only.My guess is its the latter.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 20:39 GMT)

The net result of the day is India lost their last 9wickets for 71 runs. Runs scored on day 2 minus runs SA scored. Still think that SA will have to bat once if they are to win the game. 334 is still a decent score but at 320/5 they should have at least got 370.

Posted by bluefunk on (December 27, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

Cogent article, Sid. Thanks. I think the issue here can be traced back to a slightly off-key thought process that has crept into Zaheer's personal priorities over time. As an experienced pro, he has in all likelihood assessed (quite correctly) that he can contribute best to the team by bowling quick, for however many more years he can - and anything that puts his body at risk, including batting against fellow quicks, is hence by this logic simply not worth it. The problem's quite similar to the casual approach to fielding & fitness that got him dropped last year, & eventually led to him staging this comeback after putting in the hard yards to get athletically fit in France. Since he's already shown he has the fight in him to overcome this sort of a glitch once it's clearly identified, there's no reason why he can't correct this batting attitude-issue either. Fletcher has to step in here imo. There aren't too many seniors around in the team anymore who could've had this talk with Zak.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 20:32 GMT)

Rohit Sharma has proved to be a liability in all overseas tours. He should be told in no uncertain terms that if he does not contribute in the second innings of this test, He will be dropped for the New Zealand tour. He had a dismal tour of New Zealand the last series over there where he could just not adjust to the conditions.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 20:16 GMT)

@vrkp well said mate.. i do not understand Rohit at all. It makes me feel all what he did recently are just fluke. Is he really a Future solid #5 moving up to be #4 or #3 all those slots were held by really great indian batsmen. Does he have it in him? test matches are about composure good technique, playing a session by session knowing where your off stump is and knowing what YOUR WEAKNESSES are. I have seen how Tendulkar / sehwag / laxman played when they are not sure about their best strokes.. they never played it. Dravid as always is a wall for one good reason solid defence and he damn well knows where his off stump is. enuff said .....!!!! May be he is ust meant for one days and T20s. He has technique.. what is he missing chances we give him enough... its upto him to keep it... Murali VJ is a revelation. He stood and fought like Laxman back in 1996.

Posted by Gangulyfan81 on (December 27, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Monga, First Zaheer is FULL TIME BOWLER and he scored 29 in his second innings which is a decent score for a bowler..why cant you write about R.G Sharma, Jadeja and flat track bully Dhawan..

Posted by ntalgeri on (December 27, 2013, 20:05 GMT)

Great article althought not sure why Sid Monga feels the need to apologize in every sentence ("this is not to blame Zaheer, this is not to bag Zaheer"). Well, one should blame any senior player who is playing like a rookie. In Steve Waugh's 11, would he have forgiven Jason Gillespie or even Mcgrath for throwing their wickets away? Or would they have thrown it away? Zaheer cannot be selfish - this test match is not about proving that he is fit to bowl ( a very low-grade amibition in itself). It is about helping India win, and it won't happen unless every team member values his wicket. Zaheer shows no sense of occasion in his batting and should know that he doesn't have Sehwag's See Ball Hit Ball talent to keep repeating the same nonsense everytime.

Posted by Raki99 on (December 27, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

If you can Get 75 Odd runs from the last 5 that would Make a perfect test team, But today after jadeja none of them cliclked or stayed on. Also Rohit is such a walking wicket and we are already playing a bbatsman short.

Posted by vrkp on (December 27, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

This article should have been about the greatest batting talent in India after SRT called Rohit who is in the team mainly for his batting and denying better batsmen such as Karthik or it shd have been about Jadeja who is no better batsman than Panesar or any other tailender.

The author has conveniently forgotten the 29 runs zak scored in the previous inning including two well hit sixes off steyn which proved by crucial in the match ending in draw.

If Zak was blamed for his bowling in this match then its OK.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2013, 19:56 GMT)

This analysis is quite unfair. If he had not scored those little runs in the last test, it would not have been relished as one of the best draws ever.

Posted by vivkr on (December 27, 2013, 19:53 GMT)

I must agree here, although Zaheer did play a game innings at the Wanderers to frustrate SA in the first Test. He has been showing less and less application both with ball and bat, not just with the bat. Time for a chat with the captain maybe?

Posted by Prashanth90 on (December 27, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

Ok my friend. Please tell me you saw his innings in the 1st Test...I seriously hope you did before posting this. Also he played that innings after such a long hiatus during which his priority was to get to bowling fitness. If anyone is failing to contribute with the bat in Tests, it is Jadeja. So maybe you should be looking somewhere else to put the blame.

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