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Zaheer Khan: Gave the Kiwis a taste of their own medicine

Zaheer Khan
Reuters
Zaheer Khan's burst of 4/42, including the dismissals of Craig McMillan and the dangerous Nathan Astle in the very first over of the day, paved the way for a famous Indian win. After dismissing the Kiwis for just 146, India won easily by seven wickets, extending their run of wins to seven games in this World Cup.

Everybody knows what Indian cricket is all about -- Sachin Tendulkar and spin bowling.

Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan, though, are fast reworking the equation.

Nobody saw them coming. All three are tall men but somehow they got overlooked at the start of the tournament as everybody crowded around Sachin, off spinner Harbhajan Singh and leg spinner Anil Kumble. They would give the cricket World Cup a special Indian flavour.

Indeed, it was tempting to feel pity for strike bowler Srinath. Everybody knows you should never come back from retirement.

But Srinath -- overlooked for the one-day team last year after announcing he would no longer play test cricket -- and left-arm quicks Nehra and Khan were at it again on Friday as they dismantled the New Zealand top order with slide-rule accuracy.

They bowled the first 21 overs between them at Centurion, before Ganguly finally gave Harbhajan a twirl.

By then it was 75 for five, with all the specialist batsmen back in the Centurion hutch and New Zealand as good as gone.

When Harbhajan removed Chris Cairns -- caught by Khan -- it broke a sequence of 17 successive wickets taken by India's quicks over three games.

During the team's 183-run annihilation of Sri Lanka four days previously, man-of-the-match Srinath, at 33 the daddy of the attack and the fifth bowler past 300 one-day victims, had made the early inroads as the Lankans slumped to three for three and four for 15.

In the first round Nehra had been the man of the match, his six for 23 against England the best bowling figures in World Cup history for India.

Zaheer Khan
Reuters
On Friday, it was Khan's turn.

He took four for 42 to get past 100 one-day wickets.

"We're definitely peaking as a trio," he said. "Before today, I was the one who wasn't bowling as well but hopefully things will click for me now."

Srinath ended the innings with one for 20 and 15 World Cup wickets, the same as Khan and two more than Nehra, who claimed one for 24 off 10 excellent, lively overs.

In the end though, it was Khan's effort that made the difference and the fact that he was named the Man of the Match proved that.



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