With all the talk surrounding Virender Sehwag’s 100th Test and Sachin Tendulkar’s probable last five-day game on his home ground (as the 2011 World Cup final venue is unlikely to hold a Test match anytime soon), the second India vs England Test could also be special for pace spearhead Zaheer Khan. who is just six wickets away from 300 Test scalps.
Zaheer will become only the fourth Indian bowler and second pacer after Kapil Dev to grab 300-plus Test wickets. The senior pacer will be gunning to reach the landmark on his home ground. The Wankhede wicket promises good bounce and carry which will delight the pacemen. Zaheer’s National Cricket Club coach Sudhir Naik is the curator of the Wankhede pitch. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is banking on Zaheer for vital breakthroughs. “This time round, the climate is cooler. But it is still a bit hot out there. The pacers will definitely get a bit of swing here and as the game progresses, the wicket will dry up. The fast bowlers may come back into the action with reverse swing later,” Dhoni said yesterday. “Generally, it has a bit more bounce here. Even in Ahmedabad, the fast bowlers were very crucial. The spinners took a lot of wickets, but it was the fast bowlers who gave us important breakthroughs,” Dhoni stressed.
Zaheer has been rather low key in the build-up to the second Test. Yesterday, he bowled for more than an hour in the nets. He was later seen inspecting the wicket with Naik. Zaheer bagged three wickets in the first Test at Motera last week. He was instrumental in breaking the 123-run opening partnership between Alastair Cook and Nick Compton. Zaheer has played only two Tests at the Wankhede and enjoys reasonable success here. The 34-year-old claimed 4-41 off 16 overs against West Indies in 2002. Two years later, he took 2-20 against Australia. Meanwhile, he will have a new bowling partner in today’s match after Umesh Yadav was ruled out with a sore back.