India news August 24, 2013

'My fitness has let me down' - Zaheer

ESPNcricinfo staff

Zaheer Khan, the India pace bowler, has admitted fitness has been a major issue holding him back in recent times. Getting fitter, he said, was his focus of late, and that could help him regain his place in the Indian team.

"Everybody wants to represent the country. If I am fit and can meet the demands, things should fall in place," Zaheer told DNA on his return from a fitness-training stint in France. "My fitness has let me down and I have been working on it. My next big test would be the domestic season, the Ranji Trophy. I want to get back into the Indian team."

Zaheer was dropped from the Test team in December last year, during the home series against England that India lost. His last limited-overs international was in October 2012. He played a couple of Ranji games for Mumbai after being ignored for the final Test against England, but then picked up a calf injury that forced him out of the knockout stages of the tournament and the Irani Cup. He was out of action for over four months, before returning to competitive cricket in the final stages of the IPL.

While he was injured during the Australia Tests in February, he was unlikely to be picked for the matches on form, as India blooded several young players and went on to sweep Australia 4-0. Zaheer said the competition for places in the Test XI would only benefit Indian cricket. "Competition only helps you do your best. There is no threat. Youngsters doing well is a good sign for Indian cricket. And if the seniors do the same, then you become a champion side."

Allrounder Yuvraj Singh, who had also trained in France with Zaheer after being sidelined from the Indian team, said the seniors should not be forgotten though.

Speaking to the media on his return from France, Yuvraj said: "I am very happy with the way the youngsters have been performing. But it is the balance of seniors and youngsters that makes a team strong.

"With or without me, India should select the best XI. [But] I believe that a team should be a blend of youth and experience. I am not saying that past success should be taken into account while selecting a present team but one shouldn't forget what we have achieved for the country."

Yuvraj, who was dropped from the Test side at the same time as Zaheer and did not feature in the Champions Trophy in June, has the 2015 World Cup at the back of his mind. His immediate focus though, is returning to international cricket. "The 2015 World Cup is very far, we still have a year-and-a-half for the World Cup. But it remains a part of my goal and I want to make it happen. But my immediate goal is to play for India as soon as possible. For that I have to play as much cricket as I can before the Challenger [Trophy]."

The Challenger Trophy, which features the premier one-day talent in the country, is scheduled to begin on September 26, the curtain-raiser for the 2013-14 domestic season.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nish on August 27, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    Some Indian fans are seriously deluded if they think we can simply afford to ignore a fit & in-form Zaheer Khan for the SA Test tour later this year & just make do with a few of these young medium-pacers who are currently touring SA with the A team. Even though a couple of them like say Ishwar Pandey have done reasonably well, they still have made heavy weather of bowling the SA A team tail both in the first & this unofficial Test match too. Hence shudder to think how they will fare if faced with much classier batsmen like AB & Amla! Zaheer showed glimpses of his class when he got fit & played towards the end of this year's IPL - hence assuming he shows both form & fitness, we desperately need him to spearhead our bowling attack if we are to stand a chance of success in this SA Test tour. This difficult tour will be no place for inexperienced bowlers nor will our spinners prosper much as they do back home.

  • Al on August 26, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    A half-fit Zaheer is still better than Ishant and Umesh combined. People like @ Ravi Keelveedhi must be kidding when they say - No doubt our youngsters like Bhuvi, Umesh, Ishant are spearheading the pace attach with wily spinners Ashvin and Sir Jaddu. Ishant - a spearhead. Really? When was the last time he took more than 2 wickets in a match. Ashwin and Jaddu are wily spinners. Really ?? They might be useful for ODI and T20, but they can't take more than 5 wickets in a test match.

  • pawan on August 26, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    If ryan harish can play with 37 .....they why not zak.....if he is fit then he is the best fast bowler ever in india.....he is a more batter bowler with age....

  • Sherjil on August 26, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    I want him to be given one last chance and SA would be the perfect place as the conditions would be friendly for seam bowling & Zak has the apt the experience of playing in South African conditions. Also, he can guide our young bowlers in the tour as most of them don't have the exp. of playing in SA conditions.

  • Android on August 25, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Honestly, I feel Zaheer should hang his boots & be the bowling coach of India. Shami, Mohit Sharma & Unadkat along with I Pandey are certainly better options, provided they have good coaching, and Zaheer, being experienced, can provide just that. My 16 to SA would be: 1.Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Tendulkar 5.Kohli 6.R Sharma 7.Dhoni 8.Ashwin 9.B Kumar 10. Unadkat 11.Yadav 12.Shami 13.Mishra 14.M Sharma 15.Rahane 16.D Karthik

  • Android on August 25, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    zaheer ,ishant, bhuvi,Umesh, ishwar pandey, - seamers jadeja and Ashwin -spinners

  • fahad on August 25, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    at his best, an average bowler.zaheer was lucky to be a part of such boisterous batting lineup having sachins,dravids and laxmans.always bowled well when there was a substantantial score set up by batsmen,but never saw him making a mark with ball when indian batting struggled.comparison with anderson seems to be vague and unclear coz anderson is the leader of the pack having quality pacers like broad finn and bresnan.while zaheer was leading an attack conisting of mediocre he was really"one eyed man in the land of blinds."still it seems to be ludicrous that with this form and fitness he is aiming for a return because he knows that indian team always hve a big hole in thir pace bowling dept and he can still make away back in this mediocre bowling.apart from newzealand,srilanka and westindies he can never find a place in bowling lineups of other test four test nations.

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    a fit and motivated yuvi can take down any youngster to earn a place in the side. not only that he has thrashed the oppositions like none other can in the past and if fit he should be in the t20 and odis

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    Both Zak and Yuvi have contributed largely for India's success ladder in World Cup 2011. In fact Yuvi was MOM in some of the matches. We cannoit forget blitzkreig in 2007 T20 Cup Vs England when he hit 6x6 of the hapless Stuart Broad. Zak was our strike bowler in many of our victories in Test Matches & ODIs. Zak has 200 + wkts in test matches, which is by no means a mean achievement. Nodoubt our youngsters like Bhuvi, Umesh, Ishant are spearheading the pace attach with wily spinners Ashvin and Sir Jaddu. So, past glory may not be criteria for selection in the present scheme of things. But, if Zak proves his fitness, he will be a lethal force in SA pitch conditions and Yuvi also can prove his worth and stake claim. The next Test series is in SA and it will be a great test of character. Recently Sachin said that you have to withstand the pressures of international matches especially abroad.

  • Naresh on August 25, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    I dont think India will see a better left armer for India than this guy. He was shrewd as well.Planning dismissals. He was instrumental in getting INDIA TO NO1 in tests. Will he make a comeback? Well he does have about two years of cricket left in - his style means his legs are taking a beating (the jump/hop on delivery) His decline meant India declined in Test cricket. I feel he should concentrate on the limited overs game.