Zaheer Khan was a perfect mentor, says Sunil Gavaskar

India pacer Zaheer Khan dismissed Graeme Smith for the seventh time in ten Test matches and inspired his younger fast bowlers to rattle the South African batting line-up on Day 2 of the first Test at Johannesburg on Thursday.

Updated: December 20, 2013 10:43 IST
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Zaheer Khan (file photo)Former India captain has heaped praise on pacer Zaheer Khan for his performance on Day 2 of the first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg on Thursday. Zaheer took the wicket of skipper Graeme Smith to once again win his long-standing battle with the South African opener. This was the seventh time in 10 Test matches that Zaheer scalped Smith. Zaheer inspired his younger teammates, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami, who broke the back of the South African middle order with three and two wickets, respectively. (Click here for full coverage on India's tour of South Africa)

"Zaheer (Khan) acted well as a mentor to Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami and played the role of a senior perfectly. His presence itself was a major boost for Indian seamers as they struck back to destroy South African middle order," Gavaskar told NDTV. (Day 2 report | Stats)

In international cricket, Zaheer has dismissed Smith 14 times - the most times he has dismissed any batsman. South African captain was leg before to Zaheer after scoring a gritty 68. Smith seldom looked comfortable during his 111-ball innings and was dropped at first slip off Zaheer when he was on 19. (Highlights)

Gavaskar also felt that Indian pacers were a shade better than South African fast bowlers. "Indian bowlers are better at reverse swing than their South African counterparts. They bowled well to draw the South African batsmen into their shots," Gavaskar added. (Batting not difficult but challenging, says Rahane)

India dropped two catches at slips and Gavaskar reckons it's not easy to replace Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman as slip fielders. "India have top class fielders but they need to work a little harder to reach the calibre of (Rahul) Dravid and (VVS) Laxman. Certain basics need to be followed when fielding in the slips," Gavaskar added. (Day 2 in pictures)

The 64-year-old also pointed out that India's lack of batting support in the lower order could come back to haunt them later in the Test match. "India need to look at the lack of support in their lower batting order which could come back to haunt them," Gavaskar said.

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