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Zaheer revives battered image

Ashish Shukla | December 05, 2003 16:23 IST

Zaheer Khan laid to rest the demons of bowling against the mighty Australians with a five-wicket haul that also anointed him as India's fast bowling spearhead at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday.

Zaheer has been a targeted bowler for Australia in recent One-Day Internationals, but the left-arm fast bowler shook off the psychological damage, if any, with an inspired spell which allowed India a rare ascendancy over the world champions.

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Zaheer credited his success to his no-holds-barred approach on a gloomy day at the Gabba.

"I didn't want to sacrifice my pace, line or length even if it meant I was bowling a lot of no-balls," said Zaheer, having transgressed the bowling crease no less than 12 times.

Zaheer, whose 5 for 95 was his third five-wicket haul in 27 Tests, said emphasis was on "hitting the seam and the deck consistently".

"Fast bowling is all about bowling consistently in right areas and no matter who the batsman is, he would struggle to find an answer to it."

Zaheer disagreed that he suffered any psychological damage because of the hammering he took from Australian batsmen in recent times and stressed he always backs himself to do well against quality batsmen.

"I prefer to concentrate on what I can do best rather than worry about other things."

One of Zaheer's dismissal was that of home captain Steve Waugh, who treaded on to his stumps trying to avoid a rising delivery on the leg stump. Zaheer recalled it happened just after he had requested and obtained a replacement for a wet ball.

"The ball was getting wet and difficult to grip and our request for a different ball was granted. He [Waugh] is a very good batsman and it felt good to claim his wicket," said Zaheer.

Zaheer agreed conditions were more in favour of fast bowling than on the first day of the Test.

"Conditions were much more favourable at the Gabba today. It rained for most of the day and it helped us. We did a fantastic job to restrict them.

"It is fair to say there was more help from the wicket and the key was we bowled in the right areas consistently - something which we did not do on the first day."

He praised newly-appointed coach Bruce Reid for the advice he offered the fast bowlers in the last few days in terms of areas to bowl to Australian batsmen.

"He has suggested the basics and the right areas to bowl to batsmen in these conditions.

"He has not suggested any correctives in my action as such, but the line and length we should bowl on these wickets and it has been of great help."

Zaheer hoped his batsmen would make the best use of the situation and do well tomorrow.

"We need to do well but it also depends on the weather conditions. The match is evenly poised at this stage."

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