India news August 21, 2014

Zaheer unlikely for Champions League

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Zaheer Khan: 'I am moving in the right direction'

Zaheer Khan has said that he is unlikely to be fit for the upcoming Champions League Twenty20 in September.

Zaheer told ESPNcricinfo he had only recently started bowling and while his progress has been slow, he is "going in the right direction". Zaheer had sustained a tendon injury in his bowling arm while playing for Mumbai Indians against Kings XI Punjab in the IPL on May 3 at the Wankhede stadium.

Before sustaining the injury, Zaheer had played in South Africa and New Zealand, taking 16 wickets in four Tests at an average of 44. He bowled 195.3 overs. While he did not appear to be the same force as before, Zaheer said he was "very happy" with his comeback.

"It is about how you are impacting the game. I was never an out and out fast bowler," Zaheer said. "I was always dependent on my skill set, how I set up a batsman and how I am making that impact in a spell. If you look at these four games, I did have spells where I got wickets in bulk. I was able to break partnerships, which is the key.

"If the opponents are having a good run, someone needs to put their hand up and break it. I was always there in that scenario and those are the checkpoints for me. I was very happy that I was able to keep up with the workload."

Zaheer has played 92 Tests and 200 ODIs over a 14-year career, but at the age of 35, he is running out of time to make another return to the team and add to that tally. "I like to stay in the present. Control the controllable, it's the best you can do," he said. "I don't really think about the future and what is going to happen and I don't stress about what has already happened.

"I have to just go with how my body is responding and the important thing is for me to play again, I have to bowl at my best. First I have to satisfy myself that I am there and that I can deliver. If I am able to live up to the stress and pressures of international cricket, I'll just take a call at that time."

Zaheer has been exploring business ventures during his forced break but kept a close eye on how India's seam-bowling unit performed in England. He believes the "pressure of playing such a long series" took its toll on the bowlers and losing Ishant Sharma to injury after he bowled India to victory at Lord's was a big setback.

"If someone is bowling well in a long series and is able to create a big impact, that's what we were missing. There are things you learn with experience. The whole bowling unit is very young. At this level it is important that you get into a good routine and manage yourself well."

Zaheer said India would not improve their record overseas unless the batsmen started making bigger contributions. "I have always felt that if you score 350 runs in the first innings then you are always in the game. If you don't achieve that then you are always catching up with the game," he said. "The success we had overseas in the past, the key was that we put the runs on the board. Then we won that battle, and then you went and got those wickets as well."

After the home season, during which India will play five ODIs and three Tests against West Indies, another trial by fire awaits them in Australia. Zaheer said understanding the difference between the behaviour of the Duke ball in England and the Kookaburra in Australia would be crucial to India's performance.

"With the Duke ball, you can get away with not using the new ball well, as it can start swinging after 10 or 15 overs, as opposed to the Kookaburra ball which goes dead in the same time," he said. "In a Test match, it's always about knowing when to attack and when to hold on and wait for the right moment to come on."

Zaheer believed the issue of the appointment of a new support staff and speculation over the future of head coach Duncan Fletcher had been blown out of proportion. "You can have all kind of support staff, they are there to help you, to guide you, but at the end of the day the responsibility is of the individual to make sure that they contribute."

Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. @gauravkalra75

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Johnny_129 on August 24, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    They should bring Zak back in the team in place of Ishant Sharma and make Zak captain!! India needs a bowling captain who will be trying his heart out while guiding the bowlers. Traditionally, Indian batsmen have been hindered by captaincy. In that respect Dhoni was a good choice who initially excelled with the bat and fresh (if unconventional) ideas. Now, Infia should seek a bowling captain.

  • on August 23, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Zaheer pls retire from test matches and concentrate on 50-50 and 20-20 like malinga. Ur body can not take up workload if 60 overs in a test match. India needs u badly for World Cup.

  • Paddy789 on August 22, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    Being a great FAN of Zak, I still think that his playing days at the top level is over.

  • landl47 on August 22, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    I can't see Zaheer playing in the WC. He'd have to take the place of Bhuvi Kumar and at 36 a man who has never been much of a batsman or fielder shouldn't be replacing a 24-year old with Bhuvi's skills.

    He could be a valuable off-field mentor for Bhuvi, though. He was a very crafty bowler in his time.

  • Prats6 on August 22, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    One of India's greatest Fast Bowlers, I hope he can get back his fitness. We missed him dearly in England. I hope he can play the World Cup.

  • Al_Bundy1 on August 22, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Zaheer and Yuvraj won the last World cup for India. It was Zaheer's skillful bowling and Yuvraj's all round performance that won it for India - not Tendulkar, neither Sehwag. In fact Sehwag failed in all the matches except the first one - against Bangladesh. Both, Sachin and Sehwag failed in the all important final against Sri Lanka. It was Zaheer's clever bowling that restricted Sri Lanka to a reasonable total.

  • on August 22, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    How does it matter if Zaheer is fit or not. He is done and finished. He cannot fit into World Cup team either because he cannot field. Where does Dhoni hide him also his bowling IX just 4 overs. After that in ODIs also batsman belt him. Really he us not the future.. We have 4-5 good fast bowlers who are young and fit. Need to nurture them than get Zaheer fit at 37... So Zaheer please take your own time to get fit. No hurry man

  • on August 22, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    Zaheer can good fast bowling coach for india. he good learner of the game n situations. BCCI should give him more opportunities to practice his bowling skills with new comers. well said at the end of his interview ( "You can have all kind of support staff, they are there to help you, to guide you, but at the end of the day the responsibility is of the individual to make sure that they contribute." )

  • Realistic_cri_fan on August 22, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    I think after the world cup (if Zaheer plays) BCCI should make him as the bowling coach.He is not going to play anymore in tests or ODI so it's better to use his cricket brain.He will be a great asset in guiding young fast bowlers.

  • Chn2 on August 22, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    Zaheer has been the biggest asset for India's seam bowling. BCCI shuld make sure about Zaheer's full fitness so that he can have a final goal for India's WC defend in Australia & NZ. As long as test cricket is concern the reality is we have to think beyond Zaheer's on field performance.

  • Johnny_129 on August 24, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    They should bring Zak back in the team in place of Ishant Sharma and make Zak captain!! India needs a bowling captain who will be trying his heart out while guiding the bowlers. Traditionally, Indian batsmen have been hindered by captaincy. In that respect Dhoni was a good choice who initially excelled with the bat and fresh (if unconventional) ideas. Now, Infia should seek a bowling captain.

  • on August 23, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Zaheer pls retire from test matches and concentrate on 50-50 and 20-20 like malinga. Ur body can not take up workload if 60 overs in a test match. India needs u badly for World Cup.

  • Paddy789 on August 22, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    Being a great FAN of Zak, I still think that his playing days at the top level is over.

  • landl47 on August 22, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    I can't see Zaheer playing in the WC. He'd have to take the place of Bhuvi Kumar and at 36 a man who has never been much of a batsman or fielder shouldn't be replacing a 24-year old with Bhuvi's skills.

    He could be a valuable off-field mentor for Bhuvi, though. He was a very crafty bowler in his time.

  • Prats6 on August 22, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    One of India's greatest Fast Bowlers, I hope he can get back his fitness. We missed him dearly in England. I hope he can play the World Cup.

  • Al_Bundy1 on August 22, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Zaheer and Yuvraj won the last World cup for India. It was Zaheer's skillful bowling and Yuvraj's all round performance that won it for India - not Tendulkar, neither Sehwag. In fact Sehwag failed in all the matches except the first one - against Bangladesh. Both, Sachin and Sehwag failed in the all important final against Sri Lanka. It was Zaheer's clever bowling that restricted Sri Lanka to a reasonable total.

  • on August 22, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    How does it matter if Zaheer is fit or not. He is done and finished. He cannot fit into World Cup team either because he cannot field. Where does Dhoni hide him also his bowling IX just 4 overs. After that in ODIs also batsman belt him. Really he us not the future.. We have 4-5 good fast bowlers who are young and fit. Need to nurture them than get Zaheer fit at 37... So Zaheer please take your own time to get fit. No hurry man

  • on August 22, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    Zaheer can good fast bowling coach for india. he good learner of the game n situations. BCCI should give him more opportunities to practice his bowling skills with new comers. well said at the end of his interview ( "You can have all kind of support staff, they are there to help you, to guide you, but at the end of the day the responsibility is of the individual to make sure that they contribute." )

  • Realistic_cri_fan on August 22, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    I think after the world cup (if Zaheer plays) BCCI should make him as the bowling coach.He is not going to play anymore in tests or ODI so it's better to use his cricket brain.He will be a great asset in guiding young fast bowlers.

  • Chn2 on August 22, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    Zaheer has been the biggest asset for India's seam bowling. BCCI shuld make sure about Zaheer's full fitness so that he can have a final goal for India's WC defend in Australia & NZ. As long as test cricket is concern the reality is we have to think beyond Zaheer's on field performance.

  • MuthuKumar_Vanalingam on August 22, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    @Tram, I am sure you are one of those who think cricket is all about batting and nothing else. Whose contribution was key in keeping india as no 1 position in tests for 2 years? Was it the big 4 (Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag)? No, it was zaheer who was the key. No indian can belittle Zaheer's efforts in bringing india to top of test rankings and maintain it for 2 years. He has close to 600 international wickets (311 test wickets and 282 ODI wickets). This requires lot of hard work and should not be disrespected.

    I am not suggesting that Zaheer can return to indian test team now or in future. Far from it. As mentioned by others in this forum, I do believe he would make a good bowling coach for india, provided he goes through that coaches training.

  • on August 22, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Zaheer hit the nail on the head, when he said:

    "You can have all kind of support staff, they are there to help you, to guide you, but at the end of the day the responsibility is of the individual to make sure that they contribute."

    So, true. But, the support staff, assuming that they have better wisdom (and experience) can be a good source of ideas, help and inspiration. Since many of the players are young and new to test cricket, the onus is on the coaches to go out of their way and offer help. They just can't sit comfortably in the dressing room like immovable statues of sphinx.

    The support staff should learn a lot from Alan McDonald (of SA) and Craig McDermott (of OZ) in this regard.

  • Gozunder on August 22, 2014, 5:51 GMT

    Zaheer's been a skillful bowler, and was one of the best exponents of reverse swing at his peak. I've said this over a couple of years back that Zaheer could be an asset to guide the young Indian bowlers, and help them in utilizing their skills in out thinking opposition batters, clearly something which Dawes hasn't contributed much to. Look at what Shane Bond and Chaminda Vaas have achieved with their young bowlers, it's nothing short of an advantage to have a bowling coach who has played recently, and understands the pressure of bowling in all three formats, again something that Dawes hasn't been able to cope with. If the selectors have a firm discussion with Zaheer and envision him being utilized as a bowling coach in the near future, it'll do a lot of good for Indian cricket. And by saying so, I mean no disrespect to the recently appointed Bharat Arun. Cheers!

  • on August 22, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    @Aditya Rawal on (August 22, 2014, 4:24 GMT):

    Zaheer, even without coaches' training, is far better than Joe Dawes. BCCI wasted money on Dawes. Coaches' training can help Zaheer. Even trained coaches become effective only with experience. Unless you give them chances, how can they get the experience? As a starter, at least MI could start helping him go through the transition. MI has enough resources to financially back Zak in that transition. Hope, they do.

    If Bharat Arun can be a bowling coach (he is pretty good, by the way) Zaheer can also be groomed for that role. Incidentally, Bharat Arun was not known for any great prowess in swinging the ball; neither was he as cunning as Zak, to psyche batsmen out.

  • on August 22, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    Now MI must play Suyal who is tall left armer & bowls close to 140 kph along with pk & bumrah. Gopal & bhajji should be the spinners

  • on August 22, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    India can never produce a steyn..compared to akram Zaheer is the best India could offer..and his presence has always been wealthy for Ishant and lads..a bowling coach is far fetched but definitely a mentor to the seamers..and why is it that Indians these days do not play for english county teams..our legends sachin,dada,dravid all played county from the age of 13-14,these days all the inspiring talent aims for is ranji

  • on August 22, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    All the best

  • on August 22, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    Zaheer is no spring chicken. He has to accept the realities of life. Of aging. Of younger bowlers coming up. Of declining faculties in all the three ares to excel as an intentional. And move on. Fortunately he has a good path to take. A new path. India's bowling coach.

    He has mastered all the skills of seam & swing. Is intelligent. Can communicate with the younger bowlers in their own language, Hindi. And,in English, with those bowlers who don't understand Hindi well. Is respected by the younger players. They are willing to listen and learn from him. What is he waiting for. Yes. sometimes it is difficult to take such a decision. I understand. I am a retired Prof. At 75 I still want to teach. But my family hold me back. BCCI is Zak's 'cricket family'. It is up to BCCI, to help Zak out, by helping him to take a decision to switch his role from a bowler to a bowling coach. If it helps in he going through a coaches' training, arrange that. Sincerely hope that it happens: that transition.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on August 22, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    ZK with all his limitations has had a pretty useful career and record to boot.As a left armer,though no match for raw talent of a Jonson or skills of Vaas,to his cr. relied on planning,brains to his advtg.Showed even seamers can use cunning like spinners.

  • TRAM on August 21, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    Too much hype on Zaheer's skill all these years. Even at his best he was only good at taking the wkts of some left-handers only and that too in helping conditions only. He was never known for running through any opposition. Other than that his batting & fielding were always awful. That was when he was at his best. Now, after years of physical unfit conditions, it is good for him to quit gracefully - in all formats. We have enough catch-droppers & non-try'ers, non-divers in the team now.

  • rizzz86 on August 21, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    He is no more a player to be discussed. There are more articles on him than number of matches he played in last five years. LOL

  • on August 21, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Honestly no disrespect but Zaheer is continously getting injured and I think it's unfair on young fast bowlers to be on the sidelines while teams wait for Zaheer to come back get injured then come back. I really think he should call it a day as he has no chance of getting back into the broken Indian set up, he does this and it will help him in the long run.

  • SpaMaster on August 21, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    Seriously, Zaheer's time should be up. He is one of the main reasons India lost 0-4 in England and Australia. In Australia and the subsequent home series against England, his bowling was way below par when compared to his counterparts in the opposition teams. Our bowling spearhead was bowling much worse than the second and third change bowlers of the opposition. I doubt he would be able to break into the Indian team again. Did not see much had changed in his recent come-back in SAf and NZl. May be he could be India's 3rd or 4th bowler. But then I am really not sure we should drop Varun Aaron or Ishant for Zaheer. It's time to move on. He has been a great servant of Indian cricket. He could be India's bowling coach.

  • on August 21, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    in his own interests zaheer can take up a coaching job with the Indian team... the team badly needs good Indian coaches who can communicate well with the boys - not people like Dawes and Penney .. let him travel with the team on overseas tours atleast and guide them.. BCCI with all its financial muscle can surely appoint a fast bowling coach and a spin bowling coach the latter being kumble/BS Bedi.. also arrange a camp each month for only the fast bowlers at the mrf pace foundation .. call in all the former players available - srinath/ venky/ zaheer/ McGrath etc. monitor the pace and fitness of each current fast bowler and his progress in the XI... we can surely create at least 4-5 world class seamers by this system

  • Anurag-Singh on August 21, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    I know he wants to keep playing but I feel time has come for him to call it a day.. I can't see him making a comeback to the national team.. Probably a couple of seasons of T20s..

    It is really sad to see the way Zaheer, Sehwag, Harbhajan have finished their careers.. Not the way to go out for these greats..

  • on August 21, 2014, 17:59 GMT

    If India's looking to retain the world cup, this guy has to be there leading the bowling attack. Zak was the key to India's success at WC2011, he has a lot of experience which would be required down under.

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  • on August 21, 2014, 17:59 GMT

    If India's looking to retain the world cup, this guy has to be there leading the bowling attack. Zak was the key to India's success at WC2011, he has a lot of experience which would be required down under.

  • Anurag-Singh on August 21, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    I know he wants to keep playing but I feel time has come for him to call it a day.. I can't see him making a comeback to the national team.. Probably a couple of seasons of T20s..

    It is really sad to see the way Zaheer, Sehwag, Harbhajan have finished their careers.. Not the way to go out for these greats..

  • on August 21, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    in his own interests zaheer can take up a coaching job with the Indian team... the team badly needs good Indian coaches who can communicate well with the boys - not people like Dawes and Penney .. let him travel with the team on overseas tours atleast and guide them.. BCCI with all its financial muscle can surely appoint a fast bowling coach and a spin bowling coach the latter being kumble/BS Bedi.. also arrange a camp each month for only the fast bowlers at the mrf pace foundation .. call in all the former players available - srinath/ venky/ zaheer/ McGrath etc. monitor the pace and fitness of each current fast bowler and his progress in the XI... we can surely create at least 4-5 world class seamers by this system

  • SpaMaster on August 21, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    Seriously, Zaheer's time should be up. He is one of the main reasons India lost 0-4 in England and Australia. In Australia and the subsequent home series against England, his bowling was way below par when compared to his counterparts in the opposition teams. Our bowling spearhead was bowling much worse than the second and third change bowlers of the opposition. I doubt he would be able to break into the Indian team again. Did not see much had changed in his recent come-back in SAf and NZl. May be he could be India's 3rd or 4th bowler. But then I am really not sure we should drop Varun Aaron or Ishant for Zaheer. It's time to move on. He has been a great servant of Indian cricket. He could be India's bowling coach.

  • on August 21, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Honestly no disrespect but Zaheer is continously getting injured and I think it's unfair on young fast bowlers to be on the sidelines while teams wait for Zaheer to come back get injured then come back. I really think he should call it a day as he has no chance of getting back into the broken Indian set up, he does this and it will help him in the long run.

  • rizzz86 on August 21, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    He is no more a player to be discussed. There are more articles on him than number of matches he played in last five years. LOL

  • TRAM on August 21, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    Too much hype on Zaheer's skill all these years. Even at his best he was only good at taking the wkts of some left-handers only and that too in helping conditions only. He was never known for running through any opposition. Other than that his batting & fielding were always awful. That was when he was at his best. Now, after years of physical unfit conditions, it is good for him to quit gracefully - in all formats. We have enough catch-droppers & non-try'ers, non-divers in the team now.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on August 22, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    ZK with all his limitations has had a pretty useful career and record to boot.As a left armer,though no match for raw talent of a Jonson or skills of Vaas,to his cr. relied on planning,brains to his advtg.Showed even seamers can use cunning like spinners.

  • on August 22, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    Zaheer is no spring chicken. He has to accept the realities of life. Of aging. Of younger bowlers coming up. Of declining faculties in all the three ares to excel as an intentional. And move on. Fortunately he has a good path to take. A new path. India's bowling coach.

    He has mastered all the skills of seam & swing. Is intelligent. Can communicate with the younger bowlers in their own language, Hindi. And,in English, with those bowlers who don't understand Hindi well. Is respected by the younger players. They are willing to listen and learn from him. What is he waiting for. Yes. sometimes it is difficult to take such a decision. I understand. I am a retired Prof. At 75 I still want to teach. But my family hold me back. BCCI is Zak's 'cricket family'. It is up to BCCI, to help Zak out, by helping him to take a decision to switch his role from a bowler to a bowling coach. If it helps in he going through a coaches' training, arrange that. Sincerely hope that it happens: that transition.

  • on August 22, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    All the best