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India squandered momentum in first two Tests: Zaheer

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan feels India squandered momentum in the first two Tests

Between 2001 and 2010, India enjoyed a 9-6 win-loss ratio against Australia. During that period, India became only the third side in history to win a Test after following-on, the only team to beat Australia at Perth in 11 years, and recovered from 124-8 to chase a target 216 at Mohali.


Skip's gone! Zaheer Khan celebrates the wicket of Australia's Michael
Clarke during Day One of the first Test at Melbourne on December 26,
2011. Pic/Getty Images


Psychological edge
The Indians held a psychological edge over their arch-rivals. The belief was that with players like Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh getting under Australian skins, India could always bounce back. Who can forget Zaheer's famous, "they couldn't get me or Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) out.  So, we are in with a big chance" rant after the Bangalore Test in 2008-09?

Perhaps, that cerebral mindset is on its last legs. India are clearly not pouncing on those moments. Zaheer acknowledges that. "We've been doing the right things (in the first two Tests). We've been getting them under pressure, and then just letting go of the momentum a little bit. "We need to start capitalising when we have them under pressure," he said yesterday. But, Zaheer was quick to stir the pot. "I still feel that on helpful conditions, this Australian batting line-up can be put under pressure. There are few areas that we need to focus on. I am sure in the coming matches we'll be able to rectify that," he said.

Zaheer slams Haddin
India's bowling captain took pot shots at Brad Haddin and Ricky Ponting too. Haddin had said on a radio show on Monday that India are mentally fragile, and that when put under pressure, they turn on each other. Holding back his laughter, Zaheer said, "I think Haddin should focus on his keeping.

That looks really fragile to me. He needs to start moving."  Haddin dropped three sitters in the first two Tests. Zaheer felt that Haddin's designated role was to play mind games with the visiting camp. When asked by a local scribe if Haddin was lucky to be in the side, Zaheer said: "He is doing all the talking So, he is definitely playing his role."

Zaheer felt Ponting has lost his flair. "You could see that he applied himself well," he said referring to Ponting's 40th Test hundred. "But, that flair, that aggression is different now. He's become more of a grinder which is not his natural game," he added.

Zaheer said the team was in a good space in the lead-up to Friday's third Test. "We are very focussed and quietly confident. This is not the first time we have been put in such a situation (two-nil down). In the past, we have come out of these situations. That confidence is definitely there in the team. It's showing in the practice session," he said.

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