Man-of-the-match Zaheer surprised by Aussies’ defensive approach

October 13th, 2008 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 13 (IANS) Zaheer Khan might have just demolished the uneasy facade of calmness between fierce rivals India and Australia, saying that he was surprised with the defensive approach of the visitors in the drawn first Test.Zaheer’s comments will surely not go down well with the feisty Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who set a challenging 299-run target in 83 overs on the last day of the Test Monday.

“I have not seen any Australian team playing so defensive. We were surprised,” Zaheer said.

The jelly-bean-fame fast bowler had heated exchanges in the middle with Brad Haddin in the first innings and Ponting had to intervene. Other than that incident, there was no on-field spat which reached the levels that nearly led to the last series Down Under being called-off.

Zaheer, who was declared the man of the match for his unbeaten half century and five-wicket haul in the first innings, said the toss was crucial.

“Looking at the wicket, I can say that we were in trouble after losing the toss. But we did very well to comeback and draw the game. I am very happy with the performance, it can’t get any better for me,” he said.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble said they had their chances, but was happy with the team’s performance.

“We had our chances, probably yesterday, so it is disappointing. But overall it was a fantastic effort from the lower-order batsmen to fight back after being 100 for four in the first innings.”

“Toss was vital on a pitch like this. Things could have been different had we batted first.”

Asked about spinners not playing a big role in the match Kumble said: “The wicket here has changed over the years, now it does not take that much spin and the ball keeps low. Our fast bowlers bowled very well.”

“Ishant is improving with every match and Zaheer was exceptional.”

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was pleased with his team’s showing.

“It is a good start for the series. It’s always difficult coming here and starting a series. I am happy with the team’s effort though there is room for improvement. The wicket was good, it had something for both the bowler and batsman.

“A couple of days to freshen up, then off to Mohali. Hope we will be able to execute our plans well there.”

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