Former Team India left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan has praised Mohammed Siraj for his ‘game-changing’ spell in the Mumbai Test against New Zealand. According to Zaheer Khan, claiming three big wickets on a pitch tailor-made for spinners was an amazing feat.
After Ajaz Patel’s historic 10-fer restricted India to 325 in their first innings of the Mumbai Test, Siraj sent back Tom Latham, Will Young and Ross Taylor cheaply to put the Kiwis in deep trouble at 17 for 3. New Zealand eventually folded for 62.
Analyzing the Mumbai Test, Zaheer Khan picked Siraj, Mayank Agarwal and Ajaz Patel as the top performers. About Siraj’s performance, Zaheer Khan told BalleBaazi.com:
“Another game-changing spell was by Siraj when he took three early wickets in his 1st spell. On a pitch that is assisting only spinners, pulling off a magical wicket like that of Ross Taylor was amazing. It was great to see Siraj playing to his strengths and attacking the three wickets in view."
"Then, it was our spinners trio- that not only added depth to our batting but the way they washed out the tail was great. Ashwin, Axar and Jayant were spot on.”
According to Zaheer Khan, Agarwal’s first-innings hundred was also crucial because it came at a time when the wicket was doing a bit. He stated:
“I think Mayank Agarwal is my first choice because he batted at a time when the wicket was doing a bit and his innings in the 1st half of the test took the game too far from New Zealand’s grasp.”
Going into the Test with his place in the team on the line, Agarwal emerged as the Player of the Match with scores of 150 and 62.
Zaheer Khan also hailed Ajaz for his 10-wicket haul in the first innings. Describing the effort as the stuff of dreams, Zaheer added:
“You don’t see that kind of performance sometimes in a lifetime and it was great to see how he bowled long spells endlessly. Yes, he was tiring a bit but every time he took a wicket, you could see his body language change and he came back with a string of one or two more wickets.”
“Ashwin has created a league of his own” - Zaheer Khan
The two-match Test series saw Ravichandran Ashwin continue his domination in the home conditions. The 35-year-old off-spinner was named Player of the Series for claiming 14 wickets at an average of 11.36, eight of them coming in the Mumbai Test.
Asked if Ashwin can surpass Anil Kumble’s tally of 619 Test wickets, Zaheer Khan responded:
“Ashwin has created a league of his own and he is also in the white-ball team because of which he is in a great space. Every time he has the ball in his hand, you know he will pull off some trick and make the batsman come on the front foot if he's playing backfoot and vice-versa."
"He’s got the time to achieve the feat, and with this consistency, it would be appropriate that he becomes the kind of bowler who can perhaps surpass the great Anil Kumble.”
With 427 scalps from 81 matches, Ashwin is India’s third leading-wicket taker in Test matches. He needs only eight wickets to go past Kapil Dev (434) and move to No. 2 on the illustrious list.