January 28, 2010

Zaheer’s 10-wicket haul standout effort on a batting paradise


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan produced the kind of fast bowling in the second Test that would be needed more regularly if India are to retain their place at the top of the tree. The bowlers have to do the business nearly every time because 20 wickets are there to be taken for winning a Test match no matter how heavily you score.

Nobody can doubt the greatness of the present Indian batting line-up but their bowlers haven’t attained the kind of consistency which the world beating West Indians had in the 1980s or the Australians possessed in the 1990s while dominating every opposition.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did the right thing by having credited Zaheer Khan and the other bowlers for the thumping ten-wicket victory over Bangladesh that enabled India to wrap up the two-Test series 2-0.

It’s always very nice of the captain to acknowledge and recognize the key performers. Dhoni has seldom put a foot wrong and he has been found very positive in backing his teammates.

The batsmen had certainly played their part by putting runs on the board but there was hardly anything to worry for them. The pitch was friendly and there was not much venom in the Bangladesh attack either. The Indian batsmen were bound to score heavily if they didn’t commit suicide.

But the Indian bowlers were very much pressure when they came out to bowl a second time. With key batsmen Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh on the injury list they had to ensure that there wasn’t a testing target set for them.
Well with Zaheer returning his career-best figures Bangladesh could get only one run in front and the Indian openers, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, were not even needed to put bat on ball to get the couple of runs that completed the clean sweep of the Test series.

Zaheer’s outstanding spell at the stroke of lunch brought about the relief Dhoni needed. There must have been some cause in the skipper’s mind with the hosts had progressed to 290 for three. Even the nightwatchman was not getting dislodged and there were possibilities that Bangladesh could pose more problems.

But the Indians hit back before it took to their minds and the home side had no answer to the sensational bowling for Zaheer losing their final seven wickets for 22 runs.

"It was a difficult task to get wickets in this track, both for spinners and pacers. But all credit goes to the bowlers. They really put their best to get those 20 wickets, especially Zaheer's spell,” Dhoni reckoned.

"The ball was getting old and the wicket was getting slower and slower. This is a reason we decided to bowl first in this wicket. If you bat first you need to score 600 plus or else you have to again come and bat. So it was tough but I think the bowlers did a terrific job,” the victorious captain added.


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