Mar 282014

Even though Zaheer Khan does not feature regularly in India’s T20 line-up, he will be leading Mumbai in the T20 zonal matches

Pacer Zaheer Khan to lead Mumbai in T20 zonals (© Reuters)

Pacer Zaheer Khan, who is not part of the India ODI or T20 squads, will lead Mumbai in the West Zone T20 League games to be played at two grounds here from March 30 to April 4.

Mumbai selectors also included two India under-19 cricketers – Sarfaraz Khan and Shreyas Iyer – in the squad, as well as leg spinner Pravin Tamble who plays for Rajasthan Royals in IPL.

Mumbai’s league games: Mar 30: v Baroda at Wankhede Stadium (D/n); Mar 31: v Gujarat at BKC ground (Day); Apr 2: v Saurashtra at BKC ground (Day); Apr 3: v Maharashtra at Wankhede Stadium (D/N).

The winners of the League progress to the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy All India knock out tournament to be held at Mumbai and Rajkot from April 8-13.

Mumbai T20 squad: Zaheer Khan (Captain), Abhishek Nayar, Suryakumar Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Iqbal Abdullah, Sushant Marathe, Aditya Tare, Shoaib Shaikh, Kevin Almeida, Sarfaraz Khan, Shreyas Iyer, Pravin Tambe, Saurabh Netravalkar, Prathamesh Dhake and Sujit Nayak.

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Feb 162014
McCullum ton gives Black Caps hope

Brendon McCullum struck another century as New Zealand fought back on the third day of the second Test against India.

The hosts closed on 24 for one on day two after Peter Fulton was pinned leg before by Zaheer Khan for one, giving India every chance of wrapping up a win inside three days.

But captain McCullum’s 114 not out, which followed a double-century in the Black Caps’ opening-Test win, ensured the Black Caps closed on 252 for five, a lead of six.

The hosts lost Kane Williamson in just the second over of the day as he feathered behind off Zaheer Khan, who ousted Hamish Rutherford likewise for 35.

McCullum and Tom Latham began the rebuilding job thereafter, only for Mohammed Shami to have the latter caught behind.

In-form Corey Anderson did not last long either, hitting a return catch back to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

Struggling at 94 for five, New Zealand needed a miracle. It came, however, in the form of McCullum and BJ Watling.

With McCullum reining in his natural instincts to play a ‘proper’ Test innings and Watling eschewing risk, the duo were able to show the necessary fight.

By the close, their stand had reached 158, with the former unbeaten on 114 from 237 balls and the latter’s 52 having spanned 208 deliveries.

Feb 082014
One of our top spells as a unit - Zaheer
Zaheer Khan is ecstatic after a wicket, New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day, February 8, 2014

Zaheer Khan said the events of the third day had left the momentum of the Test with India © Getty Images

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Zaheer Khan has said that dismissing New Zealand for 105 was one of the best collective Indian bowling efforts he has been part of. The performance brought India back from a first-innings deficit of 301, and Zaheer said the visitors had gained the advantage, having ended the day on 87 for 1 in their pursuit of 407.

“Definitely one of the top spells we have bowled as a unit,” Zaheer said. “Brilliant performance by the bowlers. As a bowling unit we clicked. It was a collective effort. That is what is crucial when we get teams out for low totals. Last time I remember was in Trinidad in 2001, (when) we had a similar kind of innings where all the bowlers chipped with three wickets. That was a collective effort.”

Ishant Sharma was the most successful of the Indian bowlers with a match haul of nine wickets, and Zaheer said it was good to see him convert his experience of 54 Tests into results. “He has come a long way. It is important that he picks up wickets. He has been around for a while. Definitely has the potential to create that impact at this level and happy that he is among the wickets.”

Backing up the bowlers were Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane, whose sharp catches accounted for the key wickets of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. India had dropped a few in the first innings, and Zaheer said it was crucial they held them this time. “Important thing was brilliant catching as well in the slip cordon. We held our catches and that really made a difference.”

India’s lengths were also different to the ones they bowled in the first innings. Their fast bowlers had overdone the short ball as New Zealand racked up 503 but the lengths were fuller in the second innings. Zaheer said different strategies were at work both times. “That was the plan in the first innings. We wanted to be aggressive as a bowling unit,” he said. “Bowling bouncers was one of our plans. In the second innings we went in with the approach that we have to focus on bowling areas and that really worked for us.”

Zaheer said the pressure created by the Indian attack, and not the Eden Park pitch, was the reason for New Zealand’s capitulation. “Pitch is looking good. What really got to them was the pressure I guess and some disciplined bowling by our bowlers. I don’t think the pitch has changed a great deal. In fact, it has got better, if at all.”

The pitch did not offer much as the ball got older. It was the new ball that produced wickets in the first three innings, and Zaheer said it was crucial to make it count. “With the Kookaburra ball, it is important to get those early breakthroughs and with the new ball there is always a bit more help. It is good that we have seen off the new ball today and tomorrow hopefully will be a better day for us.”

India survived the new ball for the loss of only M Vijay and Zaheer said they were in front now. “Definitely. The momentum is with us and we will look to capitalise on that. It was important that we have a good start, which we got today. So it’s important to start well tomorrow morning.”

Jan 172014
The Zaheer Khan Guide To Building Bowling Stamina
Friday 17 January 2014 

by David Hinchcliffe

Zaheer Khan celebrates a wicket

Zaheer Khan made an impressive return to international cricket – now you can build up your stamina like he did

REUTERS / Action Images

It’s well documented that Zaheer Khan returned to fitness in 2013 by attending a “performance camp” in France. What can you learn from how Zaheer did it to help you improve your bowling stamina?

The exciting part for me is that he did it without the old fashioned mantra of “putting miles in your legs” and jogging. That’s not to say he needed a lot of special expensive gear either: Everything the paceman did is simple to recreate at home, in the gym or even in the nets.

In fact, it’s a great overall plan for any fast bowler who wants to bowl longer spells and come back for second and third times with equal fire. So let’s take a look at what he did:

Bowling Stamina Tip #1: Get Committed

I don’t know Zaheer Khan personally, but I do know people. I have seen cricketers transform themselves by making a big shift in attitude. You can see that with Zaheer clearly: You don’t fly across the world to train unless you are serious about improving.

For most, this is the biggest hurdle to overcome. You want to improve, you make a plan and then life gets in the way and you find you can’t stick with it. So you give up and feel like a failure. This negative cycle stops even the best of intentions dead.

A practical way to deal with this is to stop it happening in the first place. Make sure your plans are realistic and achievable (like all good goal setting) and take some time to establish a routine that integrates your plan into your life. This can take a month or more, so cut yourself some slack if you fail a couple of times.

With your new found steely determination, you can move onto the more practical elements of boosting stamina.

Bowling Stamina Tip #2: Get Lean

Fast bowlers don’t need to have low levels of body fat, but the more you carry the more dead weight you are lugging around, so it makes sense to get lean while staying healthy.

The fastest way to do this is through diet.

Zaheer’s approach was to cut back on the starchy carbs like pasta and rice while stocking up on lean protein, especially from fish, combined with lots of vegetables. It’s hard to argue with this approach as a strategy for losing body fat, and it worked for Zaheer.

Many argue that increased stamina comes from “loading” or extra carbs. This is true for long distance endurance events, but for the stop-start nature of cricket it encourages extra calories and therefore more fat. It’s more sensible to balance your carbs.

Bowling Stamina Tip #3: Get Strong

Meanwhile, in the gym, Zak avoided the treadmill. Instead he focused on training that would make him stronger, more resistant to injury and more able to overcome the fatigue of a long bowling spell.

The regime was based on weight training (not bodybuilding which is also counter-productive). The focus was on raw strength in “big” lifts like squats and deadlifts. This was combined with exercises to strengthen the core across all the ways it can move (or to be more accurate, resist movement).

Bowling Stamina Tip #4: Get Powerful

Strength was the base, but strength alone does not translate perfectly to more stamina on the pitch. To do that Zaheer also needed to improve his power. The goal was not to increase his pace, but to allow him to maintain his existing pace while keeping his mind clear and focused for plotting batsmen’s downfall.

So, he would jump onto boxes, throw medicine balls and sprint: powerful movements that have similar effects on the body to bowling. His body learned to recover between bouts quickly, just like it would have to do between overs and spells in the middle.

And this is one of the secrets of good training for bowlers: You don’t have to see the differences (like you do when you lose weight) you can feel them when you are in the middle. No one else may notice, but they will see you coming back stronger and longer, even if they don’t realise it’s your gym work behind the change.

If you want new-found stamina like Zaheer Khan, I can strongly recommend his training regime.

© 2013 miSport Ltd

For more coaching tips, videos and courses, please visit the PitchVision Academy website

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Jan 012014
Team India will lose face without pace
India will continue to struggle against top Test teams away from home if they cannot shore up their bowling resources. The old dictum that bowlers win you matches holds as true today as it did in old times when it was coined.

You need to take 20 wickets to win a Test and against quality sides, this takes some doing, especially on foreign conditions. This foreign-condition factor becomes more obvious in case of teams like India who traditionally rely on spin to win matches.

So, while India have an excellent record at home in the last 20 years or so – when they began beating top sides at home regularly, eventually attaining the top rank in ICC Test rankings – their overseas record, while improving, remains very average. There is a considerable gap between India’s home and away records, primarily because of the dearth of world class pace attack.

In most Test-playing countries outside the subcontinent, conditions are such that a team needs a formidable pace line-up for sustained success. India have had just three top class pacemen — Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan – who served the country for a reasonable period of time.

These men, as also some other talented pacers who fell away after fleeting encounter with glory (Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth…) contributed to some memorable triumphs for the team both at home and outside. But these men mostly had to ply their trade alone, without quality pace support from the other end. In Test match cricket, bowlers hunt in packs, working with each other to out-think, out-duel or simply smother batting units. The attack may have a spearhead, a bowler of outstanding quality, but even he needs good, consistent support from two-three other men to maximize his returns.

Indian bowlers: Test record during the last ten years


























































































A look at the greatest teams over the years tells us that their domination was to a large extent fuelled by deadly bowling units. It’s not that they could have become world beaters without having great batsmen in the mix, but ultimately, those 20 wickets have to be taken.

Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’ during the 1930-40s had the peerless batsman himself leading from the front. But he would certainly have struggled to win the aura of invincibility if he did not have the services of great bowlers like Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Bill O’Reilly and Bill Johnston at different points during his captaincy.

The all-conquering West Indian side of 1970-80s was probably the most feared teams in Test history. They also had a stellar batting line-up led by Viv Richards. But it was their fast bowling pack which sent shivers down the spine of terrified rivals who often lost the battle even before the toss. Who can forget the awesome sight of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts and Colin Croft tearing down the runway and hurrying off the pitch as batting reputations nose-dived, shaken and shattered. These legends were potent in all countries, including India.

Coming to Australia’s domination of world cricket in the Steve Waugh-Ricky Ponting era, two men, who made the most critical contribution to the cause were Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. They were supported by the likes of Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, two thoroughbred fast bowlers. These four formed a very incisive bowling unit, troubling batsmen wherever they played.

South Africa, currently the top Test team in the world, owe much of their stupendous success to their pace attack led by the fiery Dale Steyn who has had great support from Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis and, lately, Vernon Philander.

Australia’s remarkable Ashes turnaround in the last few weeks has also been made possible by the pace and bounce of Mitchell Johnson who has been well supported by Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris.

At various other times, bowling duos have sparkled for their teams. Dennis Lillee-Jeff Thomson for Australia, Wasim Akram-Waqar Younis for Pakistan, Courtney Walsh-Curtly Ambrose for West Indies, Freddie Trueman-Brian Statham for England have stamped their mark on the game.

The point to be noted here is that most of these bowlers are fast bowlers. India, sadly, just do not have the firepower. Zaheer Khan is lacking in bite, Ishant Sharma, inconsistency personified, would not have got to play 50-plus Tests in any other leading Test nation, Md Shami is raw and untested while Bhuvneshwar Kumar does not have the pace and will be ineffective if the ball is not moving around. Other men on the fringes do not inspire much confidence.

Clearly, if India have to challenge the best in their conditions, they have to somehow develop a potent pace attack. How it can be done is for the BCCI to ponder. But what we have now is not going to answer the call.

Dec 202013
Ishant credits Zaheer for new-found form

JOHANNESBURG: Ishant Sharma feels Zaheer Khan’s presence has made a world of difference to his bowling. “It’s great to have Zaheer back.Both (Mohammad) Shami and me are young. The way Zaheer guides us is brilliant. And then he bowled so well,” Ishant s…

Dec 202013
Ishant credits Zaheer for new-found form

JOHANNESBURG: Ishant Sharma feels Zaheer Khan’s presence has made a world of difference to his bowling. “It’s great to have Zaheer back.Both (Mohammad) Shami and me are young. The way Zaheer guides us is brilliant. And then he bowled so well,” Ishant s…

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