A large part of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL campaign witnessed Zaheer Khan sitting in the sidelines, tending to his injury and being a mentor to the team’s crop of fast bowlers. It was a far cry from coach Ray Jennings’ initial pronouncement that the left-arm seamer will play all the league games.
Just as RCB’s fortunes dipped in the league’s final stretch, Zaheer returned in the game against Kings XI Punjab and on Saturday night, proved his worth with a four-wicket haul that ambushed Chennai Super Kings.
Understandably Jennings was happy about Zaheer’s return and said: “The tough thing for me was to get Zak match-fit. We all know that when Zak is match-fit, he has the amazing ability to handle the heat. He was really fired up (against CSK) and the catch he took (to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja) in the last over amazed me. He has returned and is a bit spicy like Indian spice and that’s good for the Indian team this season.” Got to be on the button
Jennings also pointed out that RCB was better-equipped than CSK. “When you have an eight-overs game, you got to be on the button from ball one. We were sharper than the other team. 48 balls and if you don’t put away three to four balls quickly then you are behind.
“We put CSK on the back-foot and we did not let them do anything in the eight-ball, 10-ball spell that Zak and Ravi (Rampaul) bowled. There was so much pressure on them,” the RCB coach said and his view was echoed by CSK coach Stephen Fleming.
Reacting to CSK’s loss, Fleming said: “We are not a great side for a shortened game. We have a patented style of playing the game in 20 overs and when that changes we are all at sea. The side (RCB) that we played was probably better suited for a shortened game. We won’t take much from it but I guess it will keep us grounded, which is great. Now we are very much focused on (playing) Mumbai in (the play-off at) Delhi.”