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Zaheer Khan

Varun Chakravarthy ran through the RCB middle order in Match 31 of IPL 2021. [P/C: iplt20.com]
Varun Chakravarthy ran through the RCB middle order in Match 31 of IPL 2021. [P/C: iplt20.com]
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Varun Chakravarthy Can Be A Huge X-Factor In The T20I World Cup 2021: Irfan Pathan

Irfan Pathan believes leg spinner Varun Chakravarthy could be an X-factor for the Indian cricket team at the forthcoming T20 World Cup. He reasoned that the mystery element in his bowling is likely to remain.

Varun Chakravarthy is part of India’s 15-member squad for the global event to be played just after IPL 2021 concludes. The mystery spinner showed ample proof of his credentials while registering figures of 3/13 in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) thrashing of the star-studded batting line-up of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Monday (September 20).

Varun Chakravarthy
Varun Chakravarthy[photo: Twitter]

Irfan Pathan: Varun Chakravarthy Can Be A Huge X Factor

During a discussion on Star Sports, Irfan Pathan opined that mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy will be the surprise element in India’s bowling attack at the forthcoming T20 World Cup.  After the match concluded, RCB captain Virat Kohli lauded the 30-year-old spinner and called him a key player for Team India. Varun Chakravarthy has also been selected for India’s T20 World Cup squad with Virat Kohli as skipper.

“He can be a huge X-factor. You have not played him in international cricket, you have definitely played him in the IPL but the dynamics are slightly different in the IPL. When you play him in the World Cup after playing him in the IPL, it will still be different, the World Cup pressure will be different and the mystery will remain,” said Irfan Pathan.

Irfan Pathan. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Irfan Pathan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The former India pacer Irfan Pathan cited the example of his former teammate pacer Zaheer Khan’s knuckleball at the 2011 World Cup to substantiate his point.

Irfan Pathan elaborated: “If you remember the 2011 World Cup, Zaheer Khan started using the knuckle ball in the World Cup and not before that. That was a surprise delivery. So, the surprise factor is definitely beneficial when you play a new thing or bowler. Something similar can happen for Varun Chakravarthy.”

Varun Chakravarthy has represented Team India in just three T20Is to date, which came on their last visit to Sri Lanka. Although he scalped just a couple of wickets, he was extremely economical (5.3).

In KKR’s opening match in the UAE leg, Varun Chakravarthy took the crucial wickets of Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, and Wanindu Hasaranga. Meanwhile, Andre Russell also registered three dismissals including that of AB de Villiers and Lockie Ferguson bagged two wickets. He picked 17 wickets in the 2020 IPL season at an average of 20.94. and 10 scalps in 8 games in IPL 2021 averaging 23.2.

Aakash Chopra: Pitches In The UAE Helpful For Varun Chakravarthy

Aakash Chopra pointed out that the skiddy nature of the UAE pitches is an additional ally for Varun Chakravarthy.

“The pitches currently in the UAE are helpful for him because the ball is skidding after pitching and you are getting less time. If you don’t read from the hand, you try to get a clue off the pitch, which you are not going to get here.”

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The former India opener concluded by stating that Varun Chakravarthy is a potent threat in the middle overs.

“His performance in the UAE was outstanding last time as well because of which his name came in the Indian team. The same Varun Chakravarthy was a slightly easier bowler to play when you were playing in India because that much fizz was not there after pitching. So, he is a four-over bowler and is a wicket-taking option in the middle overs.”

Varun Chakravarthy will hope to continue in the same vein for the remainder of IPL 2021. A good run here would assure him a spot in India’s starting XI at the T20 World Cup.

Shubman Gill slammed 48 runs off 34 balls, packed with six fours and a maximum. Meanwhile, debutant Venkatesh Iyer remained unbeaten after scoring 41 off 27 balls, consisting of seven fours and a maximum. Andre Russell arrived to bat after the dismissal of Shubman Gill but didn’t face a single delivery, with Venkatesh Iyer wrapping up the game for Kolkata.

Rohit Sharma, India
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: Twitter
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Zaheer Khan : Rohit Sharma Moulded Game As Per Conditions And India’s Needs On Day 3 Of 4th Test

Zaheer Khan, the former India pacer believes Rohit Sharma has molded his game according to India’s needs and scored a brilliant hundred on Day 3 of the ongoing Oval Test against England.

Rohit Sharma notched up his eighth Test hundred and, more significantly, his first away from home on Saturday. He scored 127 off 256 balls as India ended Day 3 of The Oval Test at 270 for 3.
Rohit Sharma moulded his game to India's needs, a brilliant hundred: Zaheer Khan (Reuters Photo)
Rohit Sharma molded his game to India’s needs, a brilliant hundred: Zaheer Khan (Reuters Photo)

Rohit Sharma Adapted His Game According To Conditions: Zaheer Khan

Former pacer Zaheer Khan has lauded Rohit Sharma for his outstanding 127-run knock against England, saying that the opener adapted and molded his game according to India’s needs to score a brilliant hundred on Day 3 of the ongoing Oval Test.

Rohit Sharma completed his 8th Test hundred, first on foreign soil and second against England to help India consolidate their position in the fourth Test. He constructed his innings perfectly, resolutely defending outside the off-stump and taking runs off anything loose.
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

The 34-year-old opener made batting look extremely easy in overcast conditions during his stay at the crease and also completed 3000 Test runs in the process. Zaheer Khan further said that Rohit Sharma has made a conscious effort to set himself up at the crease which is allowing him to leave deliveries on and around the off-stump in seamer-friendly conditions.

“His intentions were clear. He has adapted his game according to the English conditions. While facing the new ball, he is trying to set himself up at the crease that enables him to leave the deliveries outside the off-stump and pick the balls which he can target,” Zaheer Khan told CricBuzz Chatter.

England bowlers were made to toil by the combination of Rohit Sharma(127) and Cheteshwar Pujara (61), who put on a partnership of 153 for the second wicket, making run-scoring look easy despite seamer-friendly overcast conditions. While Rohit Sharma fell to a pull shot on 127, Cheteshwar Pujara was caught in the slips for 61.

Rohit Sharma slammed a century off 205 balls with the help of 12 fours and a six that he used to bring his ton. He went on to score 127 runs off 256 deliveries. With that, he also shattered 5 records.

  1. He completed 15,000 runs in international cricket, only the 8th player from India to achieve the feat.
  2. Rohit Sharma also completed 11,000 runs as an opener across all formats.
  3. The century at Oval helped him complete 2,000 runs in England.
  4. The 127-run knock meant he has completed 1,000 runs in 2021 across all formats.
  5. Rohit Sharma also crossed the 3,000-run mark in Test cricket.

Rohit Sharma Relishes When The Ball Comes At Pace: Zaheer Khan

Bad light stopped play at The Oval with India ahead by 171 runs. India ended the day at 270/3, with Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara scoring 127 and 61, respectively. Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja will resume India’s innings on Day 4. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara were dismissed in the same over by Ollie Robinson soon after the pair brought up their 150-ruin stand.

“The Oval pitch offers bounce and Rohit Sharma relishes when the ball comes at pace. He has molded his game according to India’s needs and scored a brilliant ton,” Zaheer added.

Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma IMAGE: AFP

India was 270 for 2 with a 171-run lead before bad light forced early stumps on Day 3 of the ongoing Oval Test. Virat Kohli was batting on 22 while Ravindra Jadeja was unbeaten on 9.

India's Jasprit Bumrah fields during the third day of first test cricket match between England and India, at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. AP Photo/Rui Vieira
India's Jasprit Bumrah fields during the third day of first test cricket match between England and India, at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Jasprit Bumrah Should Needle The Opposition If It Bring The Best Out Of Him: Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan is massively impressed with Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling in the second innings of the Lord’s Test which India won by defeating England by 151 runs on Monday.

Jasprit Bumrah, who went wicketless in the first innings, produced 3/33 in the second innings as he combined with the rest of the Indian pacers to bowl England out for 120, who needed to chase down 272 for victory.

Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)
Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Zaheer Khan: Jasprit Bumrah Was Motivated After Facing And Bowling A Few Bouncers And He Should At Times Needle The Opposition

Zaheer Khan feels the over which Jasprit Bumrah bowled to James Anderson on day 3 was the catalyst behind the India pacer’s brilliant show in the second innings.  After Jasprit Bumrah had sent down a thunderous over to James Anderson which was filled with bouncers, hitting the veteran England bowler on the helmet and the body, the pacers of the home team tried to go similarly after Jasprit Bumrah while he was batting.

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

The tactic however failed miserably as a determined tailender Jasprit Bumrah put a price on his wicket and with Mohammed Shami, added 89 unbeaten runs for the ninth wicket as India declared on 298/8.

“If by getting angry, he can carry himself and perform like this, I believe he should at times needle the opposition. See, in the first innings, he had gone wicketless and being the class bowler that he is, I’m sure it must have bothered him,” Zaheer Khan said on Cricbuzz.

“After that, the whole Anderson episode that unfolded, the bouncers he bowled to him and then while batting, the manner in which the England pacer went after him… all those things motivated him, and he channelized that anger in the right way. England must be thinking ‘we should have let Bumrah bowl bouncers’ and not mess with him. The intensity with which he bowled, was worth praising.”

The thing that transpired between Jasprit Bumrah and England is what Zaheer Khan believes acted as motivation and the former India speedster reckons that if this brings the best out of Jasprit Bumrah, it may not be a bad idea for him to indulge in a bit more needling with the opposition.

Zaheer Khan On Ollie Robinson Scalp: It’s Never Easy To Bowl A Slower Ball From Round The Wicket And Get A Batsman Out LBW

Of the three wickets, Jasprit Bumrah picked on Day 5, one that took the cake was the dismissal of Ollie Robinson. England had to play out 10 overs with three wickets left and Ollie Robinson and Jos Buttler were trying to ensure England walked away with a draw. However, a piece of brilliance from Jasprit Bumrah denied those plans.

He came from around the wicket, pulled a trick out of his T20 repertoire – the slower ball – and got Ollie Robinson out leg before wicket. Zaheer Khan added that the particular wickets showed the mental space the pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was in.

Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)

“Bowling a slower ball is challenging, but to bowl it from round the wicket, from that angle to get a batsman out LBW, you need bowl from close to the wicket, which is never easy. Bumrah did a very tough job.

“The thought process was excellent. When you’re coming round the wicket, even the batsman is thinking ‘they might use the bouncer more’. To bring out that kind of variation and to have that thinking to get that wicket, Bumrah was fabulous,” he mentioned.

If Jasprit Bumrah stole the show with bat and ball (3/33 and 34*), Mohammed Siraj (4/32) wasn’t ready to miss the opportunity to shine at the Home of Cricket as India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. Ishant Sharma, who did not play in the first Test due to a niggle, returned to the XI for the Lord’s and picked up three wickets in the first innings and two in the second.

While Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were the leaders, Ishant Sharma (2/13) and Mohammed Shami (56* and 1/13) cannot be ignored for putting in the right support.

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
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James Anderson Really Enjoys Playing Against India, Says Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan, the former India pacer hailed England legend James Anderson after the 39-year-old claimed yet another five-wicket haul to lead his team’s fightback against India on Day 2 at Lord’s. Zaheer Khan opined that James Anderson loves playing against India, which is why he has an excellent record against them.

James Anderson claimed 5 for 62 in 29 overs as India crumbled from 276 for 3 to 364 all-out. The veteran pacer claimed his 31st five-for, making him the oldest bowler in 70 years to take a five-wicket haul in a Test match innings.

Zaheer Khan (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
Zaheer Khan (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

Zaheer Khan: James Anderson Really Enjoys Playing Against India

Four of his five-wicket hauls against India have come at Lord’s. Playing in his fifth Test against India at the venue, he averages 15.72, having claimed 33 wickets. Overall, James Anderson has featured in 32 Tests against India and has 127 scalps to his name at an average of 24.51.

Reflecting on yet another memorable performance from Anderson, Zaheer Khan told Cricbuzz: “James Anderson knows England’s conditions inside out. But maybe India is his favourite team.

“His numbers seem to reflect that he really enjoys bowling against India and it brings out the best in him. Big bowlers raise their game against great opponents. It gives the bowler immense satisfaction when he does well against a very good side.”

James Anderson
James Anderson (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

James Anderson secured his seventh entry on the Lord’s honours board, with figures of 5 for 62 in 29 overs. Remarkably, four of those have come in his five consecutive appearances against India, dating back to his first home game against them in 2007.

Zaheer Khan: No Praise Is High Enough For James Anderson

Praising James Anderson, Zaheer Khan added that, if he stays fit, the England legend will continue flourishing at the top level.

The former India pacer stated: “No praise is high enough for Anderson. The kind of form he has displayed in the series so far, if he remains fit, there will be no question marks over his performance. There was some injury scare for Anderson ahead of this Test. But otherwise, there is no scope for any debate.

“If there is help in the wicket, Anderson becomes that much more dangerous. He can turn around the game at any time by claiming a couple of quick wickets. Even at this age, with the youngsters coming in, Anderson remains England’s bowling spearhead.”

James Anderson
James Anderson. (Photo by Gareth Copley – ECB/ECB via Getty Images)

James Anderson dismissed Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 1 at Lord’s. He had Ajinkya Rahane caught behind with his first ball on Friday and added the scalps of tailenders Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah to complete his five-for. James Anderson is featuring in his 19th Test against India in home conditions. So far, he has claimed 93 wickets at a stupendous average of 22.75 with five 5-wicket hauls.

Joe Root once again turned out to be the saviour for England at the end of Day 2 of the second Test at Lord’s. With England reeling at 23/2, the England skipper stood up for his side with the willow. The batting legend scored a splendid 48* off 75 deliveries, and kept the Indian bowlers at bay, as England ended Day 2 with their scorecard reading 119/3.

Earlier, Mohammed Siraj created panic in the England camp and rattled the England side by scalping two wickets off two balls in the 15th over of the innings. James Anderson has picked 626 scalps so far averaging 26.49 in 164 Test appearances. He has 9 scalps in the ongoing series averaging 14.22.

Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP
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Zaheer Khan Feels There Is Healthy Competition Between Ravichandran Ashwin And Ravindra Jadeja

Zaheer Khan noticed that the healthy competition between spin all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had proved to be beneficial for India in recent times. He added that the duo is working hard on honing both bowling and batting skills to claim the one spot available for a spinner in overseas Tests.

India has not preferred playing Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja together in an overseas Test but they played together in the WTC Final lost by India. In England, they have done it only once in 2014 at Manchester without much success apart from WTC Final. But this time in the England Tests, things might be different and was evident as Ravichandran Ashwin was dropped from the line-up to incorporate 4 pacers.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: AP
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: AP

Zaheer Khan Feels There Is Healthy Competition Between Ravichandran Ashwin And Ravindra Jadeja

Zaheer Khan said that the duo is trying to improve their games as in overseas conditions, only one spinner can play in the XI as there is competition between the two to seal a spot.

“I feel the healthy competition between Ashwin and Jadeja has been good for India. Both of them are constantly trying to improve their games. In overseas Tests, only one spinner can play in the playing XI on most occasions. Here Jadeja should get full marks. He has worked very hard on his game. “

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

” Even today, when he was batting, we could see he had the right approach. I mean, when KL Rahul was at the crease, he played sensible cricket. When English bowlers used bouncers, he did not lose his concentration and played with control. Even when he started to play aggressively in the end, he knew which areas he could target and backed himself,” Zaheer Khan added.

The 34-year-old off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the second-highest wicket-taker for India and fourth overall, in the four-match Test series in Australia. He claimed 12 wickets in 3 Tests, including one four-wicket haul. In the four-match home series against England, Ravichandran Ashwin was the highest wicket-taker. He signed off the series with 32 scalps in 4 Tests, including 3 five-wicket hauls.

Zaheer Khan: Ravindra Jadeja’s Superior Ability With The Bat Helped Him Clinch The Spot

Zaheer Khan opined that Ravindra Jadeja’s current batting form helped him get a spot in the playing XI ahead of his spin partner Ravichandran  Ashwin. Since 2018 in 15 overseas Test matches, Ravindra Jadeja has scored 461 runs at an average of 41.90, including five fifties.

In the same period, the frontline batsman’s averages are Virat Kohli – 40.83, Rishabh Pant – 37.46, Cheteshwar Pujara – 34.69, Ajinkya Rahane – 34.16, Hanuma Vihari – 34.11, and Rohit Sharma – 29.50.

” Whenever we are talking about Ravindra Jadeja, his numbers in recent times tell us a clear story. There were some question marks when Jadeja made it the playing XI for this Test ahead of Ashwin as the lone spinner. His superior ability with the bat helped him clinch the spot.

“So far in the game, we have not seen much spin bowling from England, and India also used Jadeja for just three overs in the first innings. In this sense, we can say that Jadeja has done his job well until now,” concluded Zaheer Khan.

Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: (Sky Sports)
Ravindra Jadeja Photo Credit: (Sky Sports)

Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has reached a significant landmark on day three of the first Test against England in Nottingham. Ravindra Jadeja came to bat fairly early on day three as Rishabh Pant departed after a quick cameo. However, the southpaw became the fifth Indian all-rounder to amass more than 2000 runs and take 200 scalps.

The other four all-rounders to achieve the milestone are Kapil Dev, Ravichandran Ashwin, Anil Kumble, and Harbhajan Singh. In 131 Tests, Kapil Dev accumulated 5248 runs at 31.05 and collected 434 wickets. Overall, Ravindra Jadeja is the fifth-fastest all-rounder in Test cricket history to reach the milestone behind Sir Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, and Ravichandran Ashwin.

KL Rahul, Rahul Dravid Image Credit: shortpedia
KL Rahul, Rahul Dravid Image Credit: shortpedia
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Zaheer Khan Sees A Few Similarities Between KL Rahul And Rahul Dravid

Zaheer Khan sees a few similarities between batsman KL Rahul and ex-India captain Rahul Dravid who besides sharing the same name and originating from the same city of Bengaluru keep wickets too.

Former India fast bowler Zaheer Khan, who played a lot with and under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy drew a comparison between the two players after KL Rahul, 29, opened the innings for India and did a great job top-scoring for India with 84 in the first Test against England.

KL Rahul | Photo Credit: PTI
KL Rahul | Photo Credit: PTI

Zaheer Khan Points Out Similarities Between Rahul Dravid And KL Rahul

Given how KL Rahul has been Virat Kohli’s go-to man for India and stepping up to take up different responsibilities – such as shuffling up and down the batting order and keeping wicket when need be, Zaheer Khan reckons some traits are common between the two Rahul’s.

“‘That’ Rahul also held the wicketkeeping gloves for the team and this Rahul did the same as well. It could either be the Bangalore connection or the connection of their names but he’s very talented too,” Zaheer said on Cricbuzz.

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

“Rahul Dravid has done so much for India that this show won’t suffice to talk about it. But yes, seeing such a role model who has done so much for the team compared to him and seeing that he’s being looked at with the same eyes, KL Rahul would be very happy.”

KL Rahul, who last played a Test before Nottingham in August of 2019, was drafted into the Playing XI after opening batsman Mayank Agarwal was ruled out due to a concussion. KL Rahul has scored 670 runs in 14 games in IPL 2020 and was the highest scorer and scored 331 runs in IPL 2021 as well in the first half. He played his last Test way back in 2019 August against and in West Indies.
The 28-year-old batsman who can do wicket-keeping job as well debuted in 2014 in Tests. His average was a dismal 7.5 against South Africa in 2018 and 11.4 against Australia in 2018 which led to his snub from Tests. KL Rahul featured in all five Tests during the tour of England in 2018.

KL Rahul Surely Deserves Praise: Zaheer Khan

With Shubman Gill already back home, Mayank Agarwal injured and Prithvi Shaw having just reached England, KL Rahul was tasked with the responsibility of opening the innings along with Rohit Sharma, and he answered the challenge with aplomb, keeping the innings steady with a 12th Test fifty. Zaheer Khan feels as the series progresses, KL Rahul will be the player to watch out for.

“KL Rahul will be talked about a lot throughout this series. The way he has utilized the opportunity, the application he has shown, the way he’s leaving balls and even some of the cover drives he has played, the head position and the perfect lean, he surely deserves praise,” Zaheer added.

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

KL Rahul had scored a century in a three-day warm-up game before the Test series and produced a confident 84 in the first innings of the opening match, helping India take a 95-run lead. Opening batsman KL Rahul, in his first Test for nearly two years, top-scored with 84 as India made 278 in reply to England’s meagre first-innings 183.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s typically dashing 56 featured eight fours and a six. There was more pain for England in-store when tailender Jasprit Bumrah made a Test-best 28 after his 4 wicket haul in England’s 1st innings.

James Anderson
James Anderson (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
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Zaheer Khan Praised James Anderson For Bowling An Excellent 1st Ball To Get Rid Of Virat Kohli

Zaheer Khan, the former left-arm World Cup 2011 winning seamer hailed James Anderson for bowling an excellent first delivery to Team India skipper Virat Kohli, sending him back for a golden duck.

According to Zaheer Khan, James Anderson’s spell brought England back in the game at a time when Team India seemed to be dominating the contest. James Anderson had Cheteshwar Pujara (4), and Virat Kohli (0) caught behind off consecutive deliveries to swing the momentum of the game. Ajinkya Rahane (5) then ran himself out as Team India went from 97 for no loss to 112 for 4.

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

Zaheer Khan: Virar Kohli Got A Good Delivery From James Anderson Before Being Set In The Crease

In an interaction, Zaheer Khan stated that James Anderson has clearly won the opening battle with Virat Kohli, and it’s now up to the Indian captain to respond to the challenge.

“Virat Kohli got a good delivery before he could get set although it must be said the ball was a bit outside the off-stump. Virat Kohli dominated Anderson in 2018. In this series, Anderson has struck the first blow. It would be interesting to see how Kohli responds. The ball that Cheteshwar Pujara got was right on the stumps and there was little he could do as he had to play at the delivery.”

“The tone has been set and it seems like wickets are falling in a cluster in this Test, so any batsman who gets set must ensure that he bats for as long as possible. We saw in England’s innings as well that when a wicket fell, 2-3 more followed quickly. Any new batsman going in will have to focus extremely hard on preserving his wicket,” said Zaheer Khan.

Praising James Anderson, the former India pacer added that, despite his age, the England legend remains an impact bowler.

“James Anderson is an impact bowler who can change the momentum of the game in one spell. Even at his age, Anderson is able to produce such performances. He didn’t give away any runs either and it is because of him that England are back in the game.”

England pacer James Anderson ran in jubilation at Trent Bridge after dismissing India skipper Virat Kohli for a golden duck on the second day of the first Test. It was an ‘unusual’ experience for the 39-year-old who had just equaled Anil Kumble’s tally of 619 Test wickets.

Zaheer Khan: Indian Batsmen Should Be Disappointed With Their Performances

One of the major worries for Team India going into the Nottingham Test was the lackadaisical form of their middle-order. The woes continued as Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane again fell cheaply. Since the start of 2020, the trio is averaging under 30 and has only one Test hundred among them.

Admitting that the lack of runs from the middle-order is a matter of worry, Zaheer Khan reckoned that Indian batsmen should be disappointed with their inconsistent performances.

“These Indian batsmen should be disappointed with their performances. They have been known to produce match-winning knocks and have played together for a long time. For years, India didn’t need to ponder upon Nos 3,4 and 5 while selecting the Test team.”

(L - R) India's Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane | AFP
(L – R) India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane | AFP

“Yes, their numbers in the last couple of years have gone down. I am sure the players and the team management will be aware of the same. It is the middle-order’s responsibility to capitalise on the good start provided by the openers.”

Ajinkya Rahane, who averages 40.81 in his 75 Tests, has only once before slumped to a poorer return in a calendar year. That was in 2017-2018 when he averaged less than 35, largely due to a quiet tour of England. He averages a meagre 20.62 in 8 Tests in 2021. Virat Kohli averaged a substandard 19.33 in 3 Tests in 2020 and 25.44 in 6 Tests in 2021. Cheteshwar Pujara fared no better averaging 20.38 in 2020 (4 Tests) and 28.31 in 2021 (8 Tests).
Zaheer Khan of India appeals for an LBW call on Hamish Rutherford of New Zealand during day 2 of the 2nd International Test cricket match between New Zealand and India in Wellington at the Basin Reserve on February 15, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
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I Would Advise Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinknya Rahane Not To Look At Their Recent Stats, Says Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan, former Indian pacer has advised under-fire middle-order batsmen Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinknya Rahane not to look at their recent stats as they will not get confidence from them. The left-arm pacer opined that the experienced trio should reminisce about their good times on the field with the bat and try to regain confidence from that.

Since the start of 2020, Virat Kohli has played nine Tests and scored 345 runs at an average of 23. In the same period, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have played 12 Test matches and scored 540 and 531 runs at an average of 27 and 25.28, respectively. Only Ajinkya Rahane has managed to score a century among the trio in the said period.

(L - R) India's Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane | AFP
(L – R) India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane | AFP

Zaheer Khan Would Advise Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, And Ajinknya Rahane Not To Look At Their Recent Stats

Zaheer Khan who was asked what advice he would give Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane after their string of failures in recent times replied that the trio shouldn’t look at their recent stats.

“I would advise them not to look at their recent stats. There is no point in it because they would not gain confidence from it. They have to think about their good performances of the past. And what factors in their game worked for them during those good times that led them towards success.”

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar

Cheteshwar Pujara is India’s second-highest Test run-getter in the current team after skipper Virat Kohli with 6000 plus runs (6267) in 86 matches but has often been accused of playing an ultra-defensive game which increases pressure on batsmen who follow.

Zaheer Khan: Rather Than Concentrating On Negative Aspects, The Trip Should Fixate Their Minds On Positive Things

Zaheer Khan added that if the trio believes they need to work on any technical aspect, they can iron it out with the help of coaches in the practice sessions. He also stressed the importance of having a positive frame of mind at such turbulent times.

“If they feel there are any technical deficiencies in their batting, then they can take assistance from Ravi Shastri or batting coach and work on them in the net sessions. Everyone does it as it is a usual process. If we talk only about confidence, it is not like if you have performed in these conditions in the past, you can’t do it again or better your previous performance. “

“Rather than concentrating on negative aspects, they should fixate their minds on positive things. Because a batsman is always one knock away from being in good or bad form,” added Zaheer Khan.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Zaheer Khan further advises India’s revered trinity to focus their minds on the positive aspects of their game instead of pondering on the negative ones as they are out of form as all three of them are under the pump. The 42-year-old World Cup winner reckoned the three batsmen are good enough to return to their best even in difficult batting conditions, but they need to iron out their technical flaws.

India’s three best Test batsmen could not muster notable scores during the aforementioned period. Their batting averages have been their worst ever, or matched their poorest phase, across fairly long careers. Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Virat Kohli have been the backbone of Indian batting through the past decade after Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar retired close to each other.

Ajinkya Rahane, who averages 40.81 in his 75 Tests, has only once before slumped to a poorer return in a calendar year. That was in 2017-2018 when he averaged less than 35, largely due to a quiet tour of England. He averages a meagre 20.62 in 8 Tests in 2021. Virat Kohli averaged a substandard 19.33 in 3 Tests in 2020 and 25.44 in 6 Tests in 2021. Cheteshwar Pujara fared no better averaging 20.38 in 2020 (4 Tests) and 28.31 in 2021 (8 Tests).

Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
Zaheer Khan. Image-Sportstar
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Zaheer Khan Picks 15-Member Indian Team For 2021 T20I World Cup

Zaheer Khan, the former India pacer has picked his 15-member team for the forthcoming 2021 T20 World Cup. Surprisingly, there was no place for Shikhar Dhawan who led India in the recent Sri Lankan tour.

India concluded their tour of Sri Lanka with a 2-1 series defeat in the T20Is, the first for the Men in Blue against the islanders ever. The tour was seen as a platform for several rookies to showcase their talent and audition for a spot in the Indian squad for this year’s T20 World Cup. While there is still some time before the squad is finalized, former India pacer Zaheer Khan has picked his 15-member team for the showpiece event.

Zaheer Khan AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
Zaheer Khan (Photo credit should read Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

Zaheer Khan Was Firm With His Choice Of Rohit Sharma And KL Rahul As The First Choice Openers And There Was No Place For Shikhar Dhawan

In the opening department, Zaheer Khan was firm with his choice of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as the first-choice pairing, with Virat Kohli also a contender depending upon the overall team composition. However, what was surprising is that there was no place for Shikhar Dhawan in Zaheer Khan’s 15-man team.

“I will open with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. Virat and Surya will follow them. I know Virat has made the statement that he wants to open the innings. But I would still say that Virat only opens in case Hardik is not available to bowl. In that scenario, you can sacrifice one batsman and get an extra bowler”, the former India pacer said on Cricbuzz.

File image of Indian cricketers Shikhar Dhawan [L] and Rohit Sharma | Sportzpics for BCCI
File image of Indian cricketers Shikhar Dhawan [L] and Rohit Sharma | Sportzpics for BCCI
The tour of Sri Lanka has seen Suryakumar Yadav emerge as a certain positive for the Indian team. The 30-year-old earned his maiden international cap quite late but is now becoming indispensable to the team. Even in Zaheer Khan’s team, Suryakumar Yadav is a must.

Zaheer Khan Picks Yuzvendra Chahal As The Lead Leg Spinner In His 15 Member Team For 2021 T20I World Cup

Opining on the spin department, Zaheer Khan said that while Yuzvendra Chahal remains a starter, one of Washington Sundar and Varun Chakravarthy should partner him. Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, also remains an automatic selection as a spin-bowling all-rounder.

“I have Chahal as the lead leg spinner and also went in with Rahul Chahar as his backup. In this format, we have seen that leg spinner is such a crucial factor. Chakravarthy/Sundar will be the spinners who would be bowling with the new ball. If you want that mystery element, you can choose Chakravarthy, but otherwise, you can go in with Sundar as well,” said Zaheer.

Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan picked his preferred Indian squad for this year’s T20 World Cup and decided to leave out the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, and Shreyas Iyer. He also added that he will pick Yuzvendra Chahal as the lead spinner over the man-in-form Rahul Chahar.

India’s last T20I assignment before this year’s T20 World Cup came to an end on Thursday after they succumbed to a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka. However, there wasn’t much that India could draw out of the series, especially in the batting department, after they could field only five specialist batters in the last two games.

Zaheer Khan’s 15-member India squad for T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rahul Chahar, T Natarajan/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Washington Sundar/Varun Chakravarthy

Shoaib Malik
Shoaib Malik
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Shoaib Malik Opens Up On Ashish Nehra And Zaheer Khan Creating Problems But Handled Irfan Pathan Pretty Well

Shoaib Malik talked about former India pacers Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan and how they created a problem for him and the rest of the Pakistan batsmen unlike former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan who had some memorable performances while playing against arch-rivals Pakistan. To date, Indian fans cherish his hat-trick in the opening over of the Karachi Test in 2006. Even with the bat, the former cricketer had contributed well.

Irfan Pathan had scalped 34 ODI wickets in 23 games against Pakistan but there is one player who always found it comfortable facing the left-arm quick. Former captain Shoaib Malik handled him pretty well, averaging 89.50 against the former Indian pacer.

Irfan Pathan claimed a hat-trick against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006(ICC/Twitter)
Irfan Pathan claimed a hat-trick against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006(ICC/Twitter)

Shoaib Malik Played Well Against Irfan Pathan Since He Didn’t Bowl Out Swingers Early In His Career

While speaking in an interview with Cricwick, Shoaib Malik spoke about having success against one of the finest Indian swing bowlers who often troubled the other Pakistan batsmen during his playing days.

“My average against Irfan Pathan is good because I play the inswing well. At that time, Irfan did not bowl out-swingers. He added it to his arsenal later, but early in his career, he majorly bowled in-swinging deliveries. So, I knew he would bowl an in-swinger, and I prepared myself accordingly,” said the Shoaib.

Shoaib Malik. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Shoaib Malik. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

The left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in the first over of a Test match. That it came against arch-rivals Pakistan in their own backyard made it all the more special. It was the third Test of the series.

The first two Test matches had ended in draws and naturally, the pitch for the final Test had a greenish tinge to it, perhaps to aid the Pakistan fast bowlers more. But it was India captain Rahul Dravid who won the toss and opted to bowl first. Irfan Pathan was thrown the new ball and he did not disappoint his captain.

Irfan Pathan had 100 Test wickets averaging 32.26 and 173 ODI wickets averaging 29.72 playing 29 Tests and 120 ODIs. In 24 T20Is he picked 28 scalps averaging 22.07.

Shoaib Malik: Zaheer Khan And Ashish Nehra Always Targeted Bat’s Edge And Hence Were Successful

The 39-year-old Pakistan batsman further talked about former India pacers Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan who had created a problem for him. Shoaib Malik said the duo always targeted the ‘edges of the bat’ and hence, were more successful. Shoaib Malik, who made his international debut in 1999, featured in plenty of games against India. He scored 1782 runs against the Men in Blue in ODIs at an average of 46.89.

“Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra targeted the edges of the bat. Hence, they took many wickets against Pakistan. If a bowler targets the edge, he will be more successful. I feel my ability to play the in-swinging deliveries helped me do well against Irfan,” Shoaib said.

Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan train during the 2011 World Cup. (Getty Images)
Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan train during the 2011 World Cup. (Getty Images)

Both the seamers played a great role in India’s success in the 2000s culminating in victory in the 2011 World Cup. Zaheer Khan was the joint-leading wicket-taker in the 2011 World Cup – 21 scalps along with Shahid Afridi. In fact, left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan had dismissed the right-hander Shoaib Malik 6 times in ODIs.

Ashish Nehra played 17 Tests, 120 ODIs, and 27 T20Is picking up more than 200 international scalps. He played his last Test in 2004 and last ODI in 2011 but at 36 he revived his international career because he had reprised the ability to move the ball at 140 kph, and became one of India’s most successful bowlers in the 2016 World T20. Zaheer Khan played 92 Tests, 200 ODIs, and 17 T20Is picking up 311, 282, and 17 scalps respectively.

Shoaib Malik’s last T20I was in September 2020 and his last ODI in June 2019. He played 35 Tests, 287 ODIs, and 116 T20Is amassing over 10,000 runs in all three formats combined averaging above 30 in each. Shoaib Malik became the first Pakistani batsman to score 10,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket in October 2020. He is married to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza.

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