‘Zaheer’s inclusion has helped’

Former bowling coach Eric Simons feels pacer has guided Ishant & Shami well.

Johannesburg: The return of Zaheer Khan to the Indian team has been one of the major reasons for India’s splendid performance in the Johannesburg Test with the team’s former bowling coach Eric Simons feeling the leftarmer guidance has helped Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami excel in South African conditions.

“Zaheer speaks from knowledge because he has done it himself many times over. The Indian bowlers here are working as a pack and it’s a great environment they have been able to create. The bowling coach cannot come on the field. Zaheer is the bowling coach on the field,” Simons, who was the bowling coach on India’s previous tour to the Rainbow Nation in 2010-11, told Mail Today.

“Zaheer’s biggest strength is he’s mentally in a very calm state. When a bowler is going for runs, he would tell him he can come back and ways of do it.”

Zaheer has also continued his stranglehold over South African skipper Graeme Smith, dismissing him for the 14th time in international cricket.

“Some bowlers manage to get a hold on a particular batsman sometimes. It’s perhaps Zaheer’s ability to bring the ball in from close to the stumps at full length that gets Smith in an awkward position,” Simons said from Cape Town.

Ishant seems a different bowler than the one who lost all confidence in the ODIs in India a couple of months ago.

“It’s great to see Ishant bowl the length he has in this Test. He’s learning from Morne Morkel and perhaps even bowled better lengths than him. It’s a groundbreaking spell for him to get two great batsmen (Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis) out off successive balls. Hopefully it will kickstart his career,” Simons said.

On Shami, the South African said: “He looks deceptively quick and hurries the batsmen. He hides the ball well and is accurate.”

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