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Bhajji, Zaheer shared bowling honours, Review of India's test tour of NZ
by Suneer Chowdhary
Apr 12, 2009
Continuing from the previous piece where the batsmen were reviewed, this piece reviews the Indian bowlers and the wicket-keepers on the trip to New Zealand.

1. M.S. Dhoni - 8/10 - More than harping on the couple of half centuries with an average of almost 80 to boot and a reasonable catching effort behind the stumps - which has become quite a norm for someone of the stature of Dhoni - I would want to talk of the drawn third test match. In fact, the two points that Dhoni has lost in my ratings is due to the ultra-defensive captaincy that was exhibited by him; which prevented the tourists from winning the series 2-0 instead of the 1-0 margin. Yet, almost full marks to him for the effort and one hopes that he continues the same for times to come.

2. Harbhajan Singh - 9/10 - Harbhajan's was a performance to remember; especially when one considers the conditions, cold, windy, tracks with tinge of grass and without too much help for slow bowlers, and short boundaries. Yet, Bhajji became the only bowler to end with 16 wickets at an average in the 20s - the next best from a front-line bowler was 31 - and propelled India to the win in the first test match. It seemed to be a combination of a great bowling effort and the Kiwis underestimating Bhajji's efforts. They had to pay through the nose in the end!

3. Zaheer Khan - 8/10 - It is only fair to term Zaheer Khan as India's best quick bowler in recent times. I would also not hesitate putting him in the same category as Kapil Dev, except that Kapil Dev has an advantage of longevity with him. Zaheer's 13 wickets came at 31, but more than the statistics alone, he invariably provided the initial breakthrough and would come back to get in some from the middle-order as well. If ever there was an Indian bowler who understood his own body and the conditions alike - and well - it has to be this left-armer.

4. Ishant Sharma - 6/10 - The one aspect of Ishant Sharma's bowling that hasn't changed a lot would be pace; he continues in the same vein of 140 km/hr as he had earlier. But what has changed is that the boundary-ball every over has become a lot more conspicuous making it easier for the batsmen to play out the rest of the deliveries. Eight wickets in the series are a result of not only this loss of form, but because Zaheer and Harbhajan barely allowed the ball to slip out of their hands! Bhajji incidentally bowled almost 150 overs, Zaheer had 115, where as Ishant was allowed less than 95. 5. Munaf Patel - 5/10 - He was a disappointment after having a reasonable start. Six wickets in the series at almost fifty runs for every purchase was one of the aspects that did not go down too well, but to be fair, Patel was almost bowling every spell against the wind and for someone not as fit as the others, it was a stiff ask. Still, I wouldn't hesitate calling Patel an able third seamer behind Zaheer and Ishant.

6. Dinesh Karthik - 1/10 - He was lucky to get a chance due to Dhoni's fitness issues, but failed to make good of it; as had been the case in Sri Lanka when MSD had taken a break from cricket for three tests. There were spilled chances, and the batting was nowhere close to what he had had displayed while playing at the top of the order in 2006-07. One wonders how many more opportunities can be afforded to this man from Tamil Nadu; incidentally, the same place where the chief of selectors, Krish Srikkanth is from.
 
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