It's no secret that India depends heavily on Zaheer Khan. When the left-armer returned from injury for the Durban Test last December, a different Indian team was on the park. Similarly, Zaheer's injury during the tour of England left India in shambles, demoralised without a leader.
Zaheer Khan sends down a delivery against Australia yesterday. Pic/AFP
Zaheer bagged four as Australia were bowled out for 333 on Day Two of the Melbourne Test yesterday. But R Ashwin is seeking inspiration from England's four-man attack that trounced Australia in last year's Ashes series here. When asked if Zaheer's return to the attack has bolstered India's hopes of creating history Down Under, he said: "Honestly, it's about the readiness of all the four of us (Zaheer, Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma) to try and go out there and take the wickets.
"I thought the readiness was there from Day One this time. We were all looking to go out there and take 10 wickets," he told reporters after stumps yesterday. Ashwin finished with figures of 3-81.
"It's going to come down to how well we recover before the second innings. That readiness needs to come back. Like we saw in the Ashes, the England seam attack almost seemed like they just wanted the ball in the hand, never wanted to bat. That's the kind of impression a good bowling attack can really pose upon an opponent.
Ready for wickets
"It's all about the readiness, and the wickets that we keep taking. If couple of us take five-wicket hauls before the series starts, then obviously you can see that in our team as well. We are in a good place and all four of us are in good rhythm to take wickets," he added.
Indeed, they did. Australia vice-captain Brad Haddin, who fell to Zaheer in just the second over of the day, felt the India spearhead was close to hitting top rhythm during his spell yesterday. "He's a class act and definitely bowled well. He holds the key to India's chances in the series, no doubt about that," he said.
Ashwin hoped that some patches would open up going in Days Three and Four. "Going into the game, we hope that some patches will open up. Right now, the wicket looks hard and solid underneath, doesn't look like it will break from underneath.
"Any deviation off the surface would help. We need to put ourselves in a good position with the bat and we can take it from there," he said.