Full steam ahead for three-speed India

Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and now Zaheer Khan have proved that three-into-one will go and it's an equation that is taking India closer to World Cup final success.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2003 15:48 IST

Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and now Zaheer Khan have proved that three-into-one will go and it's an equation that is taking India closer to their first World Cup final success since 1983.

Before Friday, all the talk had been of Srinath and Nehra, with their destruction of Sri Lanka and England respectively.

But against New Zealand on Friday, it was Zaheer's turn to grab the limelight when he took 4-42 and passed the 100-wicket mark as he helped reduce New Zealand to 146 at Centurion to set up a seven-wicket win for India, their seventh win in a row.

"I had been disappointed with my form so far. Javagal and Ashish have been playing really well so it was good for me to do so well and come to the party," said Zaheer.

"It's a great feeling to have reached the 100 wicket milestone - it's a great moment in my career. I'm happy that my inswinger, which I have developed in the last six months, is also working well."

Zaheer and Srinath, the daddy of the three, both have 15 wickets in the tournament; Nehra has 13 and the best average, a niggling 17.

As India sight a World Cup title on March 23, the significance of the trio's success here is bringing back memories of the role played by the seamers in the 1983 triumph when Kapil Dev, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath inspired the country to their only world crown.

Zaheer was just five-years-old then, but he is keen to learn from the old-timers.

"All three of us are bowling well and Srinath's experience has been invaluable. He passes on some valuable tips in the nets and has always stressed on us to keep a tight line and length," said Zaheer who added that he has no interest in taking on the speed guns.

"I don't want to be involved in the speed thing because I know taking wickets is all that matters in one-day cricket and you can only do that through good line and length."

Meanwhile, Srinath, in his fourth and final World Cup, is thriving on the enthusiasm of his younger pace mates.

"Zaheer and Ashish have bowled so well at the other end, its given me a new lease of life," Srinath said.

"I have no choice. I don't want them to say this old man can't bowl."

A grateful Nehra paid rich tributes to Srinath, saying the veteran's inspiring spells had boosted the team.

"Whatever we have planned so far has worked," the left-armer said. "Srinath is concentrating on line and length and Zaheer on movement, which he wasn't doing so well six months back.

"Sri is always giving us his experience. Especially here he has stressed the importance of good line and length."

India coach John Wright too is enjoying watching his three pacemen having such a devastating effect on the tournament.

"They are exciting people. To have two left-armers is unique but to have all three of our seamers firing at the same time is so good for us," said the Kiwi.

"Last year we came to South Africa and Ashish and Zaheer were very young and both had a tough time.

"But they are learning and doing a good job now. It's important for our success that we have depth throughout the side."

First Published: Mar 15, 2003 15:48 IST