Auckland: Zaheer Khan, on Saturday, lauded his junior teammate Mohammed Shami for his fiery spell on the third day of the first Test against New Zealand, saying he is a “match-winner”.
Shami put on display a fine exhibition of swing and seam bowling to take three wickets and help bundle out the hosts for a paltry 105 in their second innings.
“He’s a great prospect for Team India and has had some brilliant performances. There is no doubt he is a match-winner. That is the way I look at him. A good bowler has this quality to take wickets in bunches, that is what defines a good bowler. Shami has shown that quality. With experience he will only get better,” Zaheer said at the post-match media conference here.
“It was a brilliant performance from all the bowlers. As a bowling unit, we clicked together. The important thing was that we had some brilliant catching as well in the slip cordon and that was very crucial and it really made the difference,” he added.
India face a daunting task of scoring 407 runs to win the first Test against the Black Caps, who suffered a dramatic batting collapse at Eden Park to leave the match wide open.
All front-line bowlers chipped in on the day, with Ishant Sharma taking three wickets and Zaheer himself returning with two wickets to bring India back in the game.
Ravindra Jadeja was the other wicket-taker with figures of 1-10. In turn, this gave Ishant match-figures of 9-162 and the senior pro praised him as well, while talking about the difference in the bowling performances in the two innings.
“In the first innings we tried to bowl short. We wanted to be aggressive. In the second innings, we focussed on bowling at the right areas and it worked for us,” Zaheer said.
“Ishant has come a long way and it is important that he picks up wickets. He has been around for a while. He has the potential to create an impact at this level and I am happy for him,” he said.
Zaheer exuded confidence that India still have a chance to win the Test match and go 1-0 up in the two-Test series.
“It’s good that we have seen off the new ball and hopefully Sunday will be a good day for us. The pitch is looking good and what got to them was pressure and disciplined bowling by our bowlers. I don’t think the pitch has changed a great deal.
“The momentum is with us and we will look to capitalise on that,” he said.
The senior pro explained that with the Kookaburra ball, it’s important to get the early breakthroughs and with the new ball, there is always help in the offing.
“Everyone chipped in. It was crucial because when you have to get the opposition out for low scores, then everyone has to chip in. This Test match reminds me of the 2002 Trinidad Test, when all the bowlers took three wickets each,” he said. “We went on to win that match in the West Indies. And hopefully we will win this one too.” (PTI)