Zaheer: A Good Shepherd!

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Zaheer Khan's show-stopping exhibition of swing bowling at Trent Bridge brings back the memories of Wasim Akram - master of the trade - who made batsmen dance to his tunes. Zaheer has rekindled the hopes of providing some more feasts of left arm swing bowling in the days to come.

His shoddy and erratic show in the very first session at the Lords was looming bigger more the whole of India think about it. Same thoughts must have given sleepless nights for Zaheer between the interval of Lord's and Trent Bridge ties. And here we are cherishing the results of some pinching moments of first Test by celebrating emphatic Indian win in second Test at Trent Bridge. Best thing about Zaheer Khan and Indian bowling is they are learning from their mistakes far more quickly. Even India batsmen have learnt a great deal from their mistakes they made in Ist innings at Lord's. They made amends at Trent Bridge with a fine performance from top and middle-orders.

Zaheer Khan was phenomenal with the new ball in 1st innings and against waspish Vaughan in 2nd innings at Trent Bridge. He swung the ball both ways and never erred on line and length. Coming round the wicket, making the batsmen hopped with his back of length, inducing the ball talk in both direction at his sheer will was not only good to see but good to have as well in repertoire for Indian cricket.

This new edge which he adds to his bowling of using the new ball with dexterity is enough to consider him as dangerous option against the very best in the business.

His early days on international scene was known and remembered more for his accurate toe-crushers at good searing pace. It is never an easy art to possess late in-swinging yorkers and deliver them at will. But to the amazement of all, he delivered his tough-ones-to-avoid in-dippers with consistency at crunch situations which manifested that he has a big heart and liking for bigger stages which is usually considered as a feature of match-winners.

But for the reasons not known he lost his rhythm in 2003-04 season. Though India had a pretty good outing in 2003 World Cup where they lost in one-sided finals against Australia , Zaheer had a nightmarish one - he conceded 6.5 runs per over in this edition. And in the domestic tournaments, Zaheer's performance was pretty mediocre. With the influx of new breed of fast bowlers like Munaf, RP and Sreesanth and sudden emergence of Pathan on the scene, Zaheer's spot in Team India was in a spot of bother. Subsequently Zaheer lost his pace, sheen and place.

But that wake-up call reinvigorated the much better bowler in him. And his stint with Worcester club in English county championships helped him immensely in finding his rhythm back.

Zaheer not only have swung the momentum in India's favour in the ensuing series but also showed the world that we (seamers) can beat teams at our strength in overseas tours. Moreover he had shown us India can shun its poor overseas performers tag. Sreesanth equally capable of shouldering responsibilities with Zaheer, India can become a genuine force in Test cricket in next few years. It is good to see Zaheer making inroads for Indian cricket like a good shepherd.


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