Hope Ishant can still contribute - Zaheer
Zaheer Khan has said Ishant Sharma's injury before the Southampton Test would have been "frustrating" for the bowler but he hoped Ishant is fit and back at his best for the fourth Test of the series against England, starting next week.
"I hope it (Ishant's injury) is not serious and he still can contribute in the series. These things keep happening and it is nothing that he did wrong but it just happened, so he has to deal with it," Zaheer said on the sidelines of a function to launch ProSport, his venture to help professional athletes manage fitness. "I hope the matter is not that serious. It also depends on what kind of injury you are going through. Some injuries you can play with but some injuries you have no option but to sit out."
Recently, Zaheer had said he expected Ishant to step up his performance and lead an otherwise inexperienced pace attack. Zaheer was delighted with his protégé's match-winning seven-wicket haul that gave India its first victory at Lord's in 28 years and put them ahead in the series. At the same time, Zaheer admitted Ishant's injury, described as "soreness" in his leg, would have hurt as the bowler was in top form.
"He is the man in form. He has had a brilliant last Test match. He has been on top of his game and it is always frustrating when you get injury of that magnitude when the team needs you most. It is frustrating but as an athlete, you have to take things in your stride and do the right things," he said.
Zaheer's 14-year-long international career has been plagued with various injury breakdowns. The latest of it, suffered during the 2014 IPL, sidelined him from India's tour to England. However, Zaheer said he hasn't yet hung up his boots and hopes to resume bowling in the nets in August.
It was his injury-prone career, aided by several rehabilitation programmes aided by experts, that has inspired Zaheer to start ProSport.
"It is something linked to my cricket as well. I have spent enough time in terms of fitness and injury management which is crucial for any fast bowler, or any athlete for that matter. The thought of ProSport has been there for a long time," Zaheer said.
Zaheer has roped in physiotherapist Andrew Leipus and strength and conditioning expert Adrian Le Roux in his bid to provide the best of fitness and injury management facilities in Mumbai. The duo of Leipus and Le Roux is credited with changing the fitness regime of Indian cricketers during their long association with the national team. Both of them continue to work with numerous India cricketers.
"Every time you get injured you end up going abroad for expert advice or for expert help. Just recently, I went abroad for my fitness regime and I thought if I can get the experts here, I can give people that kind of access which will help a lot of guys understand and educate them and guide them on what sport-specific fitness can offer," he said.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo