Auckland: Speedster Zaheer Khan on Saturday lauded his junior team-mate Mohammad Shami for his fiery spell on the third day of the first cricket Test against New Zealand, saying he is a "match-winner" for Team India.
Shami put on display a fine exhibition of swing and seam bowling to take 3 for 37 and help bundle out the hosts for a paltry 105 in their second innings.
"He's a great prospect for Team India and has had some brilliant performances. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a match-winner. That is the way I look at him. A good bowler has this quality to take wickets in bunches, that is what defines a good bowler, and Shami has shown that quality.
With experience he is only going to get better," Zaheer said at the post-match presser here.
"It was a brilliant performance from all the bowlers. As a bowling unit, we clicked together. The important thing was that we had some brilliant catching as well in the slip cordon and that was very crucial and it really made the difference," he added.
India face a daunting task of scoring 407 runs to win the first Test against the Black Caps, who suffered a dramatic batting collapse at Eden Park to leave the match wide open.
All front-line bowlers chipped in on the day, with Ishant Sharma taking 3 for 28 and Zaheer himself returning 2 for 23 to bring India back in the game.
Ravindra Jadeja was the other wicket-taker with figures of 1 for 10. In turn, this gave Ishant match-figures of 9 for 162 and the senior pro praised him as well, while talking about the difference in the bowling performances in the two innings.
"Short bowling was our plan in the first innings as we wanted to be aggressive as a bowling unit. Bowling bouncers was an aggressive plan for us. In the second innings, we went in with the approach that we have to focus on bowling the right areas and it worked for us," Zaheer said.
"Ishant has come a long way and it is important that he picks up wickets. He has been around for a while. He has the potential to create an impact at this level and I am happy that he's among the wickets," he said.