File image of former India quick Zaheer Khan. (Getty Images)
File image of former India quick Zaheer Khan. (Getty Images)

India vs Australia: 'He got a chance because of injuries but did better than expected,’ Zaheer praises India debutant

  • India vs Australia: Zaheer Khan, the former India quick, had nothing but good words about the India debutant, who bowled remarkably in the first innings of the Brisbane Test.
By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:44 PM IST

India fielded a relatively inexperienced bowling attack in the fourth Test against Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane. With Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin injured, India handed debuts to T Natarajan and Washington Sundar who became India's 300th and 301st Test cricketers. Add Shardul Thakur in the mix – for whom this is effectively his first Test considering he had bowled just 1.4 overs in his maiden Test in 2018 before getting injured – and India had a combined experience of three Tests between their bowlers heading into the Brisbane Test.

Also Read | India vs Australia Highlights, 4th Test, Day 2

For an Indian bowling line-up as inexperienced as this one, the fact that Thakur, Natarajan and Sundar picked up three wickets each shows the bench strength of this team. Especially Natarajan, who about 45 days back, was merely restricted to being a net bowler for the team. The way he has responded to the faith shown in him is remarkable.

Zaheer Khan, the former India quick, had nothing but good words about Natarajan, who returned figures of 3/78 in his maiden Test. His wickets included that of Matthew Wade and centurion Marnus Labuschagne, whom he dismissed in back-to-back overs. Having finished Day 1 on 2/63, Natarajan cleaned up Australia's No. 11 batsman Josh Hazlewood for his third strike of the innings.

Also Read | ‘There's lot to like about him’: Aus assistant coach impressed with India bowler

"It was a very good first day for him, picking two wickets. And the way he bowled, he didn't try to do too much extra. He just kept on bowling according to his strengths, in the areas we have generally seen him bowl. This also shows that when you are playing at the highest level, you need to stick to the things that have given you success," Zaheer said on Extraaa Innings Show on the Sony Sports Network.

Also Read | ‘I did it once and it didn’t go down well,’ When Ricky Ponting asked Glenn McGrath to not bowl with the new ball

What impressed Zaheer the most about Natarajan is that his performances were better than what was expected. On his ODI debut, he picked up 2/70 including the wicket of the dangerous Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell, allowing India to secure a 13-run win in the third game of the series. In the T20Is that followed subsequently, Natarajan was on the money grabbing six wickets from three games. When the real test of Test matches arrives, Natarajan started splendidly with his first spell reading 6-1-8-0.

"You need to keep faith in that, and that was what we saw from Natarajan, which we expected from him. The situation in which the entire Indian bowling unit was, and he got a chance because of injuries, he has done better than what was expected from him," Zaheer added.

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