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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 17:20 GMT
Zaheer gets his just desserts
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at Centurion

So far in this World Cup, Zaheer Khan has often looked the most impressive of the Indian bowlers in matches where his colleagues have ended up with better statistics.

Zaheer celebrates a wicket
Zaheer is enjoying an excellent World Cup

But at Supersport Park it was this softly-spoken young man from Maharashtra who took the lion's share of the wickets with figures of four for 42 against New Zealand.

After picking up the Man-of-the-Match award, the 24-year-old said he was glad to have "joined the party" fellow seamers Ashish Nehra and Javagal Srinath had begun for so many Indian fans.

"We all three bowled well today, especially Ashish.

"He kept a very tight line and length - that helped build up the pressure on their batsman, and that's what resulted in wickets," said Zaheer.

Stephen Fleming, the poor New Zealand captain who has to sweat through a day of cricket on television before knowing if his team are through to the semi-finals, made a similar point.

"Ashish Nehra was outstanding today," said the one Kiwi batsman who hung around long enough to observe most of the bowlers.

"Zaheer got the wickets but Ashish bowled an excellent spell."

The way the three of us are bowling...we are ready for anyone
Zaheer Khan

Nobody would begrudge Zaheer the honours, however, especially with Srinath and Nehra already having collected a hatful of wickets in the tournament.

There is more to come from this left-armer with one of the smoothest actions in world cricket.

"I felt I could have done better," he said. "But I was certainly happy I got wickets today. I feel my confidence level is good now."

Zaheer was initially expensive despite striking twice in the first over of the match, but it did not bother him in the slightest.

"Maybe I was trying too much but my comeback spell was good. I think with the new ball I just try to pitch the ball up and obviously sometimes I go for runs.

"Srinath tries to bowl a good line and length and as with Ashish his strength is swing. With me I like to hit the deck so I am a bit different to them.

Mohammed Kaif and Rahul Dravid
Kaif and Dravid completed the job as the rain came down

"It's good to have Srinath with us because his experience counts so much. He can tell how to vary my pace and how to adjust my line and length."

Zaheer is happy now to take on any opposition, and if it is Australia who India face in the final, then so be it.

"The way the three of us are bowling and with the support bowlers also doing a good job we are ready for anyone. We are happy that we are acting as a unit."

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, meticulous man that he is, will be particularly content with proceedings.

He resisted the temptation to rest players against New Zealand and the move paid off in style.

Mohammad Kaif, who had been denied opportunities to build a substantial innings, hit an unbeaten half century.

And Zaheer, who has bowled well without always getting the success he deserves, also had a match to remember.

India overwhelm Kiwis
14 Mar 03 |  Team Pages
India sweep past New Zealand
14 Mar 03 |  Photo Galleries
Full scorecard
14 Mar 03 |  World Cup
India v NZ: over-by-over
14 Mar 03 |  Team Pages
Have Your Say on India
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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