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Zaheer's coach not optimistic of pacer being recalled

ESPNcricinfo staff

May 29, 2014

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Zaheer Khan is ecstatic after a wicket, New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day, February 8, 2014
A fitter-looking Zaheer Khan had shown up at India's previous two overseas tours © Getty Images
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Zaheer Khan's long-term coach, Sudhir Naik, is not very optimistic about the pacer making a comeback for India. Speaking to Mid-Day following Zaheer's exclusion from the India squad for the England Tests, Naik said he does not think the selectors will consider him for national duty in future.

Zaheer had injured his back while playing in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Following a visit to London for treatment, he is now back home, in Mumbai.

His only chance of being recalled, Naik said, was if the group of younger bowlers selected for the England tour failed "miserably". "I don't think the selectors will consider Zaheer again. It will be very, very difficult for Zaheer to make a comeback into the Indian team," Naik said. "The only possibility is if the younger lot of pace bowlers selected fail miserably. Then, the selectors might consider Zaheer again. Otherwise, there is no chance."

The BCCI had not specified why Zaheer had been left out of the 18-man squad that included six pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Pankaj Singh - whether it was due to his injury or whether he had been dropped. Naik said in his opinion it was because of doubts over whether Zaheer could last the duration of the five-Test series.

"Although he would be fit for the Test series, the selectors would not like to take a risk with Zaheer's fitness," he said. "Their major concern would have been whether he could last for the full series. So, that is why they did not select him."

Zaheer, 35, is currently fourth on India's wicket charts, with 311 scalps from 92 matches. The previous time India went to England, in 2011, Zaheer's hamstring gave way on the first day of the first Test, and that set the tone for a disastrous series for the visitors. Thereafter his fitness remained a talking point and his form fell away, culminating in him being dropped during the home Tests against England in December 2012.

In his time away from the national team, he underwent rigorous fitness training in France with Yuvraj Singh, and returned looking in much better shape. He was recalled for the South Africa tour in December last year. In the New Zealand series that followed, he further dispelled the worries over his fitness when he bowled extended spells - 107 overs over two Tests. However, the latest injury will not be easily overcome, Naik said.

"His dream was to complete 100 Tests and then retire. But I guess now that will not happen. I was confident that he could achieve his goal when he returned to full fitness after a nearly one-year injury lay-off. But unfortunately, this injury has practically ended his international career. There are only 25% chances of him making a comeback now."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Nampally on (June 2, 2014, 21:16 GMT)

@Nandan Nadkarni: Thanks for your feedback regarding Yadev & Aaron being kept out of Playing XI by MSD. Cricketers should be chosen on their current form & record not on "Politics". Right now Umesh Yadev is at his best form. If I had the chance to select the XI, Yadev & B.Kumar will open the bowling for India in the First Test in England. They are the best on current form. Shami is distant Third! Ishant does not deserve to be in XI at the expense of Yadev. Similarly amongst spinners the best one is A.Patel (LH). But neither Yadev nor Patel are in the squad. Sadly, the Selectors did not do their home work. Binny at age 28 does not justify his selection even in India B team.

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

Why the hell is Raina being ignored again and again. I think hes a better batsman than Vijay/Gambhir/Binny!

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

@Nampally ..as long Dhoni is the captain India will play Ishant, Jadeja and Ashwin in the test team. Umesh Yadav, and Aaron along with some talented leg spinners will never find a place in the team ...the same applies with the opening batsmen.

Posted by Nampally on (May 31, 2014, 14:15 GMT)

Great bowler that Zaheer was, his days of playing for India are over. You cannot turn back time & at nearly 36 he is past it as a pace bowler. India has so many talented bowlers of real World class pace- Aaron at 150 KPH, Umesh Yadev at 145KPH +, are the 2 brightest prospects. Kumar & Shami are strong back up medium pacers at 135+ KPH. Pandey, Mohit Sharma & Sandeep Sharma are also serious contenders. Instead of focussing on the past, it is better to develop these bowlers via coaching & look to present & future with hope. All the hype in trying to get the players past their best into the Indian Team is waste of time. ZAK had his days & we salute him for his great contribution to the Indian Cricket as we did to many other pacers since the time of Nissar & Amar Singh. Also India needs good opening batsmen. Whilst there are at least 6 promising openers available, we keep recalling old timers past their best. Nair, Uthappa, Vohra, Samson, Chand need to become "Insiders" from "Outsiders"!

Posted by SICHO on (May 30, 2014, 6:58 GMT)

@Cloudmess interesting you mention Ambrose and Walsh in their later part of their career, but you forget to mention that they were fitter and 20-25 ks quicker than Zaheer.

Hmm....... Don't get me wrong folks, but really, this new Indian pace battery is not really sparking some interest to set the world on fire, but lets wait and see. I see Cook and co. are boasting their batting averages big time, but hey you'll never know.

Posted by RameshGV on (May 30, 2014, 6:04 GMT)

I agree Zaheer might not be the same force and we should look into future. But, to have him as a mentor to this young pace bowling in a series like England, would have been of immense value to the team and for these guys and future. Zaheer is by far the best bowler we have see in the last decade for India. He gets that respect not just in India but outside as well. Hope BCCI and Zaheer can strike a cord and do something meaningful together.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2014, 2:07 GMT)

personally id like zaheer to stay till the 2015 wc but play few matches to keep up match fitness but mostly travel with the squad as a mentor. his experience would be invaluable to the bowlers.

Posted by cloudmess on (May 30, 2014, 1:05 GMT)

In English conditions he could have been a handful, where savvy is often more important than express pace. Ambrose and Walsh were still nearly unplayable on their last WI tour here, aged 36 and 37 respectively. Still, it will be an interesting series. England are probably now where India were a year or so ago, having to rebuild after the collapse of a very successful side.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2014, 0:40 GMT)

Zaheer probably played a year too long, and shouldn't be back, but the negative comments are disappointing. Like all Indian pace bowlers in recent times his numbers suffered from having to bowl in India on some brutal tracks as well as having had relatively slow, older fielders with poor range for much of his tenure. His ODI numbers were outstanding. He had a fine career for India and should be respected.

Posted by McGorium on (May 30, 2014, 0:23 GMT)

@ LeftBrain: Although it's true that Indian pace bowling is, and has been weak, using SR or averages to compare them to non-subcontinental bowlers is misleading. For example, Wasim Akram's SR is 54.6. Gough's SR is 51.6. Nobody in their right mind would argue that Gough is the superior bowler. SR basically indicates that a bowler bowls X balls to take a wicket. Most teams play 50% of their games at home which put subcontinental pacers who do not have sheer pace at a disadvantage. In the subcontinent, esp with India, the pacer's job is to soften the ball up for the spinners. The pitches are made to help spinners, and pacers often bowl less than 20 overs an innings, most of them fruitless because the pitch doesn't help. English conditions help swing most of the time, and so Gough has a lower SR. Zaheer takes around 5 balls more on average than Wasim to get a wicket. How much do you think that costs the team? Or are we just twisting numbers to suit our theories?

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