If there’s one bowler who has consistently troubled South Africa captain Graeme Smith, its Zaheer Khan. Smith, fell to Zaheer once again on Thursday when he was trapped leg before wicket for a fighting 68.
Nevertheless, former India bowling coach Eric Simons believes one shouldn’t read too much into the Smith-Zaheer duel. “It’s with the same technique that Graeme Smith has got runs and troubled bowlers the world over. Some bowlers manage to get a hold on a particular batsman sometimes,” Simons told MiD DAY.
“It’s Smith’s batting style and he has recognised that Zaheer is a quality bowler. Smith is mentally tough. He took first strike against Zaheer. It’s perhaps Zaheer’s ability to bring the ball in from close to the stumps at full length that gets Smith in an awkward position. He was trying hard until Zaheer got him out again,” Simons explained.
Elaborating on the senior paceman’s strengths, Simons said: “Zaheer’s biggest strength is that he’s very calm. When a bowler is going for runs, he offers suggestions on how they can comeback. He speaks from knowledge because he has done it himself many times over.”
Talking about India’s bowling in general, Simons said: “The Indian bowlers here are working as a pack and it’s a great environment that they have managed to create. The bowling coach cannot come onto the field.
“Zaheer is the bowling coach on the field. Coaching is not about you, it’s about us.” Ishant Sharma, who has enjoyed patchy form of late, was in top form in the hosts’ first innings taking four wickets, and Simons felt it’s his length that’s making a difference. “It’s great to see Ishant bowl at the length that he has in this Test. He’s learning from Morne Morkel and perhaps even bowled better lengths than him.”
“It was a ground breaking spell for him to get two great batsmen out off successive balls. Hopefully, it will kick start his career. I have always believed he has been unlucky and the only thing that has not worked for him is he’s not able to pick up wickets which he will learn to do now. Full credit to Dhoni, who has stuck to him.”
Speaking about India’s new find Mohammed Shami, Simons said: “I haven’t worked with Shami personally but he looks deceptively quick. He hides the ball well and is accurate.”