Zaheer Khan has seen many turnarounds in a Test career that began in 2000, but India’s seamer-inspired destruction of the Kiwi line-up at the Eden Park on Saturday still thrilled him.
“It was a brilliant performance by us. The bowling was outstanding. The catching lifted the bowling too,” said the 35-year-old senior Indian paceman.
On the change in strategy of the Indian seamers in the New Zealand second innings, Zaheer said, “In the first innings we wanted to show aggression and bowling bouncers was a part of that. In the second innings, it was more of bowling in the right areas, bowling a tight line. It was a collective effort from the pacemen.”
Zaheer was happy with the improvement shown by Mohammed Shami.
“He is a great prospect. He is also a match-winner. I say this because anyone who can take wickets in bunches can change games.”
The wily paceman was also pleased with Ishant’s bowling and his nine-wicket Test haul. “He has come a long way. I thought, he bowled very well in this match, bowled long spells.”
On his own bowling, Zaheer said, “Over the last five to six years, I have been working the batsmen out. I have not been relying on pace.”
“I am still enjoying my cricket. I am coping well with the work-load. The more I bowl, the better I get,” he said.
He thanked the Indian supporters at the Eden Park who rooted for the team despite the situation it was in after conceding the 301-run lead.
“It’s always great when people back you to do well irrespective of the situation,” he said.
New Zealand left-arm paceman Neil Wagner believed his side was still in a good position. “If anyone had told us at the beginning of the day that we would set India a target above 400, we would have gladly taken that. It’s still a lot of runs on the board. We need to keep focus on what we are doing,” he said.
The 27-year-old South African-born Wagner said, “Actually we did not panic. We tried to push the rate of scoring. You have to give credit to the Indian bowlers.”
“We need to keep the faith, be patient. We have two top class bowlers in Boult and Wagner. They should do the job for us,” he said.