Zaheer Khan's six Test bunnies
Even as England captain Andrew Strauss tries to solve the Zaheer puzzle, Bikash Mohapatra presents a few other batsmen who have struggled against 32-year-old left-arm seamer.
It was an encore, so to speak.
Zaheer Khan banged one short, just outside the off stump, and Andrew Strauss's mistimed pull ensured Ishant Sharma had no difficulty taking a regulation catch at fine leg.
England's captain had negotiated 80-plus deliveries, only to give away his wicket in this fashion.
Blame it on a momentary lapse in concentration on part of the batsman. Or credit the bowler for winning another round and regaining his psychological edge over the batsman. Zaheer had set it up again. And succeeded one more time.
Zaheer's dismissal of Strauss on the opening day at Lord's was a rehash of what had happened at the same venue in the first Test in 2007. Only the fielder was different; in that case it was Sachin Tendulkar.
The 2007 episode was the first instance of Zaheer accounting for Strauss. Thursday was the sixth time, in the last 10 innings.
And in the four intervening years, Zaheer has had the measure of the England captain. So much so that, in a bid to negotiate him, Strauss didn't mind playing a first class game for Somerset (vs India).
"The fact that Andrew Strauss is here playing in this practice game says it all. There is definitely that element of doubt in his mind and he has given me that edge now going into the series," said Zaheer ahead of that game in Taunton.
On Thursday, Strauss proved his nemesis was right.
Even as the England captain tries to solve the Zaheer puzzle in the rest of the series, we present a few other batsmen who have struggled against 32-year-old left-arm seamer.
Zaheer has had a more bunnies in Test match cricket and he's loving it!
Image: Andrew Strauss
Photographs: Getty Images
Andrew Strauss's teammate was accounted for on five occasions by Zaheer.
Since rattling his stumps in the first innings at Lord's in 2007, Zaheer has had the measure of the 29-year-old.
More importantly, three of those five dismissals have been leg before decisions, suggesting Bell has inadvertently paid the price of playing across the line to Zaheer.
Or, do we the say the bowler got it his way?
Image: Ian Bell
The former South Africa captain had a tough time when his team last toured India (in March 2010).
During most pressers, he had to fend off questions regarding his inability to negotiate Zaheer.
But fact remains, the 30-year-old southpaw has been accounted for on six occasions by the left-arm seamer.
For that matter, in four of the last five Tests that South Africa played against India, Zaheer has had the measure of Smith on four occasions.
Image: Graeme Smith
When Zaheer first accounted for Sangakkara, Sameer Dighe used to keep wickets for India.
Well, it was back in August 2001, when both the players were relatively new in the Test arena.
It took Zaheer seven years before he got Sanga out a second time (in July 2008).
Since then, though, the left-arm seamer has had the upper hand over the classy batsman, getting his number on four occasions.
Image: Kumar Sangakkara
It can be a demoralizing statistic for Tim McIntosh for sure.
The New Zealander's is still a fledgling career, with only 17 Test appearances thus far.
Of them, six Tests have been against India. And McIntosh has become Zaheer's victim on an equal number of occasions.
Having accounted for the 31-year-old on three occasions when India toured New Zealand in 2009, Zaheer got the better of McIntosh on three more occasions when the Kiwis came to India late last year.
More disturbing (for McIntosh) would be the fact that on three of those occasions he couldn't open his account, quite a shame for someone who opens the batting for his side.
Image: Tim McIntosh
Finally, we come to batsman who has been Zaheer's favourite bunny.
Zaheer dismissed the now-retired Matthew Hayden on as many as seven occasions.
Three of those dismissals came in 2008, in what was Hayden's final tour of the subcontinent.
Zaheer's strategy against Hayden was simple: to make the batsman play the shot. And to say the plan worked would be an understatement.
Even Zaheer's teammate, Harbhajan Singh, employed the strategy to good effect against the Australian.
For the record, Harbhajan accounted for Hayden on as many as nine occasions.
Image: Matthew Hayden