India paceman Zaheer Khan’s National Cricket Club coach Sudhir Naik has slammed the selectors’ decision to drop his ward for the fourth and final cricket Test against England to be held in Nagpur from Thursday.
Naik (67), the former India opening batsman who prepared the pitch for the second Test against England at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, told MiD DAY yesterday that the veteran fast bowler’s morale was dented once the powers that be started putting too much emphasis on spin bowling in their quest to beat the Englishmen.
“They went on with this need for turning pitches. In this scenario, what kind of a message are you sending out to your fast bowler if you keep harping on the spinners’ role? It is natural for it to play on his mind and lead to a disappointment,” said Naik, who too was reportedly pressurised to prepare a rank turner.
Tank not empty
Emphasising the point that Zaheer has still fuel left to deliver for India, Naik elaborated on the limited chances, the left-arm quick bowler received from captain Dhoni. “In the first innings at Ahmedabad, he (Dhoni) opened the bowling with R Ashwin and Zaheer. In the second innings, he opened with Umesh Yadav and Pragyan Ojha. In Mumbai, Zaheer was not used as an opening bowler at all. When a fast bowler knows that he has a lesser role to play, you can’t expect miracles.” said Naik. Dhoni’s spin-heavy tactics reminded Naik of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who, in the 1960s, used to, “open the bowling with non-regular bowlers just to get the shine off the ball and then get the spinners on.”
Those tactics, according to Naik, destroyed the confidence of ace pacer Ramakant Desai.
Meanwhile, Zaheer’s axing for the Nagpur Test notwithstanding, he is still very much in the selectors’ plans. “Several of our fast bowlers are undergoing rehabilitation. Looking at the long season, it is advisable to save Zaheer,” said a source.