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Friday, 13 December 2013

Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin promise fire & guts

India’s 2-0 ODI defeat to the Proteas may have increased the concerns of their supporters. However, two of India’s most experienced bowlers, Zaheer Khan and R Ashwin, have assured one and all that Team India will not leave the South African shores without putting up a fight in the Test series. (Also Read: 'Won't take Indian bowlers lightly in Tests' - AB de Villiers)
Zaheer, who joins the squad for the Test leg, led his team’s defense by responding to AB de Villiers’s claim that his fast bowlers have scarred the Indian batsmen going into the two Tests.
"You know, talk is talk," Zaheer said. "You can talk as much as you like outside. Once you go on to the field, it's all about doing. And I think this Indian team will do the needful; whatever it's going to take to win this series."
This series will mark Zaheer’s comeback to international cricket after a year but the wily and shrewd Indian pacer is not short of confidence. One of the reasons why he was summoned to join the team to the Rainbow nation was his tremendous record against the South African captain, Graeme Smith – he has dismissed the left-hander 13 times in international cricket in 396 balls. When asked his plans against the batsman this time, Zaheer said, “I just have to turn up”.
He then added, "Having said that, Graeme Smith has got a terrific record in Test matches. He's a good leader. It's good to have that advantage. When you go into a match and have that edge over someone who has been a good opener and [has] been scoring consistently at the highest level."
While Zaheer will be fresh going into the Tests, Ashwin will have the baggage of the ODI defeats. It will worry him that he picked up a single wicket in the series and went for run-a-ball (169 runs off 168 balls). However, the aggressive and competitive off-spinner said he is not yet done fighting.
"I am definitely here in terms of looking to fight and just go on fighting," Ashwin said. "I am prepared for a fight. I want to take it to the field and see what I can actually do. Be it with catching, be it with bowling or be it with batting. I am prepared for all. So I am just going to go out there and make sure that I at least give it 100% of what I can do for a series win. It cannot get any better. It means the most to me in life," he said.
Ashwin, who is on his first international tour to South Africa, said he had begun to work on his Test bowling in the ODI series itself and despite his unimpressive figures, he has achieved what he wanted to from the ODIs to prepare him for the Tests.
In terms of what I wanted to achieve out of the ODI series, it's pretty much through. I wanted to test the conditions, see how much it responded to what I was delivering. Yesterday (in the third ODI), pretty much, the Test match was more on my mind. I thought I can toss a lot more balls up and see where it goes. Definitely the ball was drifting much more.
"I think it's got to [do] much [with] the air in terms of what I'm planning to do here. [I just] try and set fields and bowl straighter lines. I've chatted to a few people who have been here and done well so that's going to help. I'd like to play the situation rather than anything else. I've prepared myself in terms of what I can deliver at the best of my abilities, and then I'll take the situation at hand and do what the situation demands.
"Whatever I have heard and whatever tour I have gone on, I was always expected to take wickets. There's no two ways about it. I have my personal expectations, and I would like to do well anywhere I go,” Ashwin said.
Ashwin, who recently topped the list of ICC Test All-rounders Test Rankings with a fighting century against West Indies in Kolkata, said it is imperative for him to contribute with both bat and ball in this series.
"There are three facets of the game," Ashwin said. "I'll be standing at slips, I'll be bowling, I'll be batting. I would fight in every department. I am dead serious about it. I will definitely throw every bit. I will never throw the towel, and I'll try and see where I can go [from] here. There is nothing that will mean more to me than a victory overseas."


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