I’ve crossed the Sydney hurdle: Zaheer
Perth, Jan 10: With two consecutive losses behind them, India need to win the third Test at the WACA to be in with a chance to level the four-Test Border-Gavaskar series. India's pacer spearhead Zaheer Khan feels that although his side have a few issues to address, they’re capable of staging a comeback.
"Sydney didn't work out according to plan. It was tough for us. But these kinds of things are understandable. We need to move forward. The Perth game starts with 0-0. It's a new Test and we are prepared to give it our best shot," he was quoted as saying in the lead up to the WACA Test.
"Sometimes you do all the right things but it doesn't go your way. But this Test starts afresh and we are focussing on it. This game is important for us as far as the series is concerned and we are ready to do well," Zaheer said.
"This is not the first time that we have been in a situation like this. We have come out of such situations in the past. It's showing in [our] practice. There's a good vibe in the dressing room and it's a positive sign," the 33-year-old bowler said.
Discussing fellow fast bowler Ishant Sharma's form in the series, he said,"Ishant has played here; actually he came into the reckoning [after his performance at] this ground. He has fond memories of this ground and once he gets his rhythm back, he will get among the wickets. He's been bowling well, it's just a matter of time before he picks up wickets."
Speaking about young fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who claimed the top three wickets in both innings at Melbourne before an indifferent Sydney Test, Zaheer remarked, "It is just the beginning for him. If you have played just four or five Tests, you are allowed to make mistakes. But we are very happy with his attitude and he is a wicket-taker."
Despite having toured Australia earlier, Zaheer will be playing his first Perth Test, something that injury had prevented earlier in his career. "I have finally passed the Sydney hurdle. It's the first time that I'm in Perth and I’m really excited about it. I am looking forward to playing on this track about which there is so much of talk. I'm really excited with the hype which is going around [about the wicket].
"For me, honestly, what's important is to bowl in the right areas and get my rhythm going. It doesn't matter how the pitch behaves. After all it remains 22 yards," the left-arm pacer said simply.
"I really got a hang of reverse swing when I played county cricket for Worcester in 2006. It really helped me. I began to understand my body and bowling as well, what's working for me and what's not. If it is a normal wicket, I stick to swing and if it supports reverse, I plan accordingly. In India also, every other game you play it reverses," he said while discussing his technique.
"This Australian batting [line-up] can be put under pressure. We are getting them under pressure but letting [them] off a little bit. We have a few areas to look into and I'm sure we would be all right in the upcoming matches," Zaheer said.
"We were fantastic as a bowling unit in Melbourne. Everyone chipped in. In Sydney the wicket changed after the first day. It was a bit different, and it's not an excuse, but anybody could see it.
"The nip and movement in the pitch wasn't the same. But we are looking forward to [this Test] and I am confident as a bowling unit we can take 20 wickets," he said.
Having struggled with injuries throughout his career, Zaheer is careful to avoid the strain that invariably accompanies a tour of this length. "On a tour like this where there are four Tests, it's important to use the time in between wisely. Especially for fast bowlers it's very important how their work load is monitored.”
On Sachin Tendulkar's impending 100th century, Zaheer said, "We are not stressed about it. The way he is batting, a big hundred is not far away. He is moving his feet well and judging the length and line well. The kind of upper cuts he is able to play, watching the ball till the last minute and playing those shots, it shows the 100th century is not far away."