September 27, 2012

Zaheer's old-ball problem

He isn't making it talk like he used to in his heyday. Is poor fitness to blame?
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A thick layer of fog wrapped itself around the ground in Mohali. Since the teams had arrived, every morning had worn a dim look, forcing play to start well after the scheduled time. Even when the light had improved sufficiently for the match to get going, it remained fairly overcast through the day. Biting cold made it impossible to move the limbs with freedom. The batsmen fretted over the unusually green pitch and the moisture underneath. This was a North Zone v West Zone Duleep Trophy match in January 2001, the first time I saw Zaheer Khan in action.

He ran in very hard, bowled with a lot of purpose and generated disconcerting speed. While every other bowler in the match focused on posing questions based on swing and seam, Zaheer seemed more interested in hurrying the batsman. He would regularly hit North Zone's batsmen on the head, but he was the bowler that batsmen preferred to face. There's a saying in cricket, whatever doesn't get you out, doesn't bother you much. While Zaheer bowled the fastest, his team-mates Iqbal Siddiqui and Santosh Saxena bowled smarter, in the right areas, and picked up wickets.

Back then, Zaheer was a one-dimensional bowler who would only take the ball away from the right-hand batsman. While an away swinger at great speeds can be tough to handle, in the absence of an inswinger, it is just not as lethal. After a little while he became a little too predictable. To counter him, one could leave balls pitched in line with the stumps alone, for the angle always took them away from the stumps. To finish within the stumps, he would have to bowl outside leg - which would be largely pointless. If you got used to the pace, were prepared to get hit a few times (his bouncer was always aimed the head) and play the lines, you were largely safe.

Still, given that any bowler who can consistently clock 140kph with some degree of control has a fair chance of success, Zaheer, till 2006 in international cricket, was effective if not lethal.

In a bid to refurbish his bowling, he took a trip to England for a stint with Worcestershire. He returned a completely changed bowler. He ran in a lot slower, which allowed him more control at the time of release. He cut down a yard or two on pace, which allowed him to bring the ball back into the right-handers in the air and off the surface.

To achieve optimum swing and control with the new ball, you have to bowl at about 85% of your top speed. The new Zaheer operated in the early 130s but swung the new ball appreciably. Bowling hundreds of balls in county cricket had also helped him identify the right lengths to operate with - in this case, a little fuller than his previously preferred length.

While dropping pace spells doom for many bowlers, it worked wonders for Zaheer, for he added many more tricks to his bag in the bargain. The years following his county stint were his most productive in international cricket. In fact, he was one of the main reasons for India's good showing in Tests and ODI, at home and abroad, in that period. While Yuvraj Singh was the Man of the Tournament in the World Cup in 2011, credit must also be given to Zaheer for being the chief architect of India's victory, for he provided breakthroughs almost every time he bowled.

Following that tournament, though, there has been an alarming decline in Zaheer's form. Even though he was India's highest wicket-taker in Australia, it was quite evident he was not bowling at his peak. The first indication was his over-dependence on the new ball for his wickets: he would remove the openers cheaply but then had to wait for the second new ball to strike again.

While Zaheer hasn't lost his knack of making the new ball talk, it's his proficiency with the old ball that's leaving a lot to be desired. It could be either form or fitness. I'm tempted to go with the latter because a bowler's skills aren't as dependent on form as in the case of batsmen. Also, if it was a sudden loss of form, Zaheer would have struggled as much with the new ball as with the old, which is not the case. Bowling effectively with the old ball requires a lot more effort than bowling with the new ball, which lends credence to the theory that his fitness is letting him down.

Another indication of a decline in his fitness is that he isn't bringing the ball back into right-handers that often anymore. Doing that demands a lot more effort from the back and hamstrings. When you don't give a delivery everything, it usually just holds its line and doesn't come back in.

When Zaheer opted to run in a lot slower (after his county stint) in search of more control on the crease, he also cut down on his follow-through drastically. This change didn't bother him much because his back, hamstring and upper body were strong enough to generate pace without much momentum, but the moment his fitness dropped, injuries began to take their toll.

There is no doubting that Zaheer is India's best fast bowler after Kapil Dev. At 33, his best years might be behind him, but he is far from over. At the moment he finds himself at a crossroads in his career. There are two ways to regain past glory: he could either double the number of hours he's dedicating to his fitness, or he could cut down the number of matches he plays.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh28 on September 29, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    It's time Ishant took over as the pace leader.He has better stamina than rest of Indian bowlers. Together with Yadav.

  • on September 29, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    zaheer khan was dubbed as YORKER KHAN in 2000...it was considered that ok he dsent sing the bowl but can get wickets with his pace...now he has sme more tricks up his sleeve...but the yorker has gone missing from indian bowling

  • Ayush_Chauhan on September 28, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Its a little unfair to call Zaheer an average bowler, when he seems to be the only bowler who realised his potential in the last 20 years or so, and was the part of a team that won the world cup and won consistently overseas. Agreed that he is facing a decline today, but apart from Dale Steyn, not many fast bowlers have a field day consistently. Zaheer has re-invented himself before (remember when he was asked to cut down on his jump), and I hope for India's sake and for me (since I am big fan) he does it again.

  • renegademike on September 28, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    best bowler after kapil dev...... I dont buy that any day. Srinath was much quicker and a much better bowler then zaheer khan. in fact he was a much better exponent of the old ball in sub-continent then zaheer khan ever was.I've seen him running through a very strong SA batting in Ahmedabad with pure swing and speed. His spell against Pak in Kolkata in 1999 was as great a spell as any bowler would've bowled (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63830.html) his record overseas was as good as any Indian fast bowler had Infact along with prasad they formed the best bowling partnership for india. it was a pity that they didnt get any support from a third seamer

  • LillianThomson on September 28, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    At Zaheer's current age, Wasim's Akram took hat-tricks in consecutive Tests. Imran Khan's bowling when he was almost three years older drew a series in the West Indies against Richards, Greenidge, Haynes and Richardson. The difference is that both those bowlers chose punishing gym regimes which allowed them to bowl twenty overs at over 140K on three days of a Test match. Zaheer can't even sustain 125K for more than four overs. When he was quicker he had more to offer than Irfan Pathan, but now what does he offer?

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on September 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    The photograph shows Zak's right arm in front of his body, instead of behind his body. Thats pretty unnatural.

  • Samar_Singh on September 28, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Zaheer is a very average bowler .. Can anyone say how many matches has he won for india having played 85 test already .. Just 3 wickets per test and average of 32+ is not that enough to suggest his ability .. What is the point of being a good bowler who does not take wickets..

  • Mr.APEXXXXXXX on September 27, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    ZAK is the greatest fast bowler India has ever had, Bcoz he has been the silent artist behind INDIAs Greatest Test and ODI success which was not possible even when K.D and Srinath were around… yes he has always been prone to injuries but he always delivered whenever required.. I am absolutely sure that Zak will get his Rhythm back and again show his critics that he is still around as 1 of the BEST IN THE Business !!!!!!!

  • on September 27, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    dinda no use only short pitched ,back of length stuff,no fuller ball from him ,if he bowl this way to quality batsmen-eng,saf,aus,will be taken to the cleaners

  • on September 27, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    When you don't have competetion, you tend to take things for granted. I think that is what is happening with Zaheer. He knows he can't be replaced in Indian team right now. So, he does not have that extra motivation. I may be wrong!

  • Naresh28 on September 29, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    It's time Ishant took over as the pace leader.He has better stamina than rest of Indian bowlers. Together with Yadav.

  • on September 29, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    zaheer khan was dubbed as YORKER KHAN in 2000...it was considered that ok he dsent sing the bowl but can get wickets with his pace...now he has sme more tricks up his sleeve...but the yorker has gone missing from indian bowling

  • Ayush_Chauhan on September 28, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Its a little unfair to call Zaheer an average bowler, when he seems to be the only bowler who realised his potential in the last 20 years or so, and was the part of a team that won the world cup and won consistently overseas. Agreed that he is facing a decline today, but apart from Dale Steyn, not many fast bowlers have a field day consistently. Zaheer has re-invented himself before (remember when he was asked to cut down on his jump), and I hope for India's sake and for me (since I am big fan) he does it again.

  • renegademike on September 28, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    best bowler after kapil dev...... I dont buy that any day. Srinath was much quicker and a much better bowler then zaheer khan. in fact he was a much better exponent of the old ball in sub-continent then zaheer khan ever was.I've seen him running through a very strong SA batting in Ahmedabad with pure swing and speed. His spell against Pak in Kolkata in 1999 was as great a spell as any bowler would've bowled (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63830.html) his record overseas was as good as any Indian fast bowler had Infact along with prasad they formed the best bowling partnership for india. it was a pity that they didnt get any support from a third seamer

  • LillianThomson on September 28, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    At Zaheer's current age, Wasim's Akram took hat-tricks in consecutive Tests. Imran Khan's bowling when he was almost three years older drew a series in the West Indies against Richards, Greenidge, Haynes and Richardson. The difference is that both those bowlers chose punishing gym regimes which allowed them to bowl twenty overs at over 140K on three days of a Test match. Zaheer can't even sustain 125K for more than four overs. When he was quicker he had more to offer than Irfan Pathan, but now what does he offer?

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on September 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    The photograph shows Zak's right arm in front of his body, instead of behind his body. Thats pretty unnatural.

  • Samar_Singh on September 28, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    Zaheer is a very average bowler .. Can anyone say how many matches has he won for india having played 85 test already .. Just 3 wickets per test and average of 32+ is not that enough to suggest his ability .. What is the point of being a good bowler who does not take wickets..

  • Mr.APEXXXXXXX on September 27, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    ZAK is the greatest fast bowler India has ever had, Bcoz he has been the silent artist behind INDIAs Greatest Test and ODI success which was not possible even when K.D and Srinath were around… yes he has always been prone to injuries but he always delivered whenever required.. I am absolutely sure that Zak will get his Rhythm back and again show his critics that he is still around as 1 of the BEST IN THE Business !!!!!!!

  • on September 27, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    dinda no use only short pitched ,back of length stuff,no fuller ball from him ,if he bowl this way to quality batsmen-eng,saf,aus,will be taken to the cleaners

  • on September 27, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    When you don't have competetion, you tend to take things for granted. I think that is what is happening with Zaheer. He knows he can't be replaced in Indian team right now. So, he does not have that extra motivation. I may be wrong!

  • on September 27, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs FYKI Brett lee's average is just 30+ and considering the fact that he played most of his matches on bouncy wickets, I wouldn't rate him higher than Zaheer khan ...Steyn is the only bowler in the world who can bowl on any conditions ....

  • on September 27, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    40's is the new 30's and Zaheer is only 33. Yet he cuts down his pace to around a pathetic 125 kmph. Brett Lee is still express. There are many who are much older than ZK but are extremely fit and move well in the field. Basically he is resting on his laurels and not put enough effort on the fitness front and I think it has been atleast 3 years since he neglected his fitness. Sad, he could have been a much better bowler and taken many more wickets for India.

  • binojpeter on September 27, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Zaheer need to focus on test cricket and leave the T20s and ODIs to youngsters. His type of bowling is not ideal for shorter version. And that will keep him in good stead for Tests where we need him more.

  • ExplicitPlatinum on September 27, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    I'm a Pak fan and I have to say one thing. Fast bowlers who would be an excellent choice in India would definately be up north in the country. My advice would be that Indian fasters from middle, southern and western parts of India shouldn't be selected. This was a random find, but this guy shows remarkable stats, even I was baffled at the fact that people consider Varun Aaron a great talent. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/26504.html This is the type of players Pakistan choose for their team like Junaid Khan for example. Zaheer Khan is arguably India's joint best fast bowler for the country (Next to Kapil Dev).

  • christened on September 27, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    Hail the batsman of our era.... Mr.Akash Chopra ..... hope his aura doesnt diminish.....

  • itsthewayuplay on September 27, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    bringing the ball back into right-handers...demands a lot more effort from the back and hamstrings. i'm afraid this is nonsense. as a bowler i can categorically confirm no extra effort is required to move the ball one way over another. what is required is extra concentration on line when bowling to a left hand-right hand combination but not extra physical effort. zaheer's fitness has always been an issue and being 33 with all his experience had he looked after himself this should be the last of his best year/s. the reason why zaheer struggled in aus was due 1. no proper test of his fitness following injury and 2. atmospheric conditions in aus because hardly any of the bowlers got reverse swing. zaheer's being carrying a spare trye round his waist for while now as he's probably been enjoying the food at his restaurant too much.

  • yoohoo on September 27, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    @Travis Thomas - Chaminda Vaas also would have been in the hall of fame, as would zaheer. The fact is that a lot of bowlers in non-subcontinent teams are over-rated due to their performances on friendly pitches. Bring them to the subcontinent, and see what their performance would be like. Infact, many of them have already come to the subcontinent and we know about their performances (see my previous post). Both these bowlers would have walked into any team in the world.

  • on September 27, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    @yoohoo saying he should be in the hall of fame is a joke. In fact, he wouldn't even get a look in for most of the top country's XIs around the world. Someone like Vaas was much better despite his pace, and his record shows it. Zaheer is a good bowler, who made the most of his talent and neglected his fitness. If he continues to bleed runs, India should drop him. But then pick who? There is hardly anyone stepping up.

  • on September 27, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    I fear India's best option may be to make Zaheer a test only player in the subcontinent to extend his shelf life as a player. In the subcontinent, if India continue playing 7 batsmen in limited overs games, India can get away with Irfan and one another pace bowler, preferably Umesh Yadav, and play two spinners. Overseas though Zaheer maybe needed as that third seamer in ODIs in Aus, Eng or SA. I really wish Awana and Sandeep Sharma would get some A team experience though and that Praveen Kumar would get another look.

    I also hope no one mentions Ishant Sharma as he simply does not have the composure. His failure to be able to swing the ball or pitch it fuller and on off or 4th stump line after so many tests is baffling.

  • msm29 on September 27, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    I think its quite unfair to so quickly start doubting Zaheer. Till last year, we were all raving about his performances. Surely, every cricketer goes through a few ups and downs. He was never known for his fitness, ever since his debut. So expecting him to watch his fitness now is a little unrealistic. Yes, he needs to continue working on it but I think its his mind that needs a turn-on. He still has 2 more good seasons ahead of him. For a fast bowler, that's the best we can expect in today's cramped international calendar. Just hang on and stay put. He will deliver.

  • anuradha_d on September 27, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    I think you may be jumping the gun here a bit aakash.........it is so easy to forget 10 good performances in a row and focus on the last two games.

    Zaheer is like a diesel engine...takes time to get warmed when starting from the cold....and then improves his efficiency as the engine runs more and more.

    his speed is up there implies to me that he is doing fine in terms of fitness.

  • zero_knowledge on September 27, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    While we can't deny that zak was our best bowler for five yrs from 2006 to 2011 when he averaged less than 30 (for an indian bowler its an achievement) he has lost on the fitness part i think.. he has definitely become fat. if we look at how kapil walsh ambrose, mcgrath akram (inspite of diabetes) maintained their bodies in the later part of their career we'll come to know how hard they worked. Also his county stint helped him as he bowled a lot there. nowadays whenever he gets injured he doesn't play first class cricket after the rehab and straight away turns up in a test match and we have seen the results. pace will be around 120k and reverse swing is out of question at that pace.

  • on September 27, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    He is the best fast bowler India had after KD..Zaheer's toe crushing Yorkers, In-Swingers and Reverse Swingers, Knuckle ball cannot be bowled by even Srinath.How many 5 wicket hauls outside India this man has got (MCG 08, Brisbane 03, New Zealand 03, England 07) ! Each of the big test wins India made abroad has Zaheer's contribution Also the world cup 2011 - 21 wickets.Even 03, Zaheer bowled better than Srinath. So atleast give credit to that part.He was better bowler than srinath ..Period!. But yes he has not at his best since WC .May be if he makes another Comeback, It could be even better for India..So hope he comes back!

  • Jack_Tka on September 27, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    Its a problem with fitness. Old ball is softer, and for making it talk, the bowler needs to be fit and run in with full zeal. Thats missing in the case of Zaheer. My opinion is that Zaheer is just relying on past laurel(when he was really good). Otherwise, in the last ONE YEAR, I haven't seen any commendable performance by him. If the talk is about guiding the new Indian bowlers, then he can do that by sitting in the sidelines as well, no need to occupy a seat in playing ELEVEN. Time has come to get rid of him.

  • sramesh_74 on September 27, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Zaheer is well past his sell-by date especially in the shorter formats of the game. He cannot trundle in and bowl length during the death overs. He used to possess a pretty good yorker and this seems to have disappeared from his arsenal. Moreover he is a liability in the field and has forgotten how to hold a bat. He can still be a force in Test cricket if he remains fiit...

  • Naresh28 on September 27, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    From Aakash's solutions Zaks should do both. Cut out on number of matches and also work on his fitness. Zaks has a hop in his delivery which has served him well, but its taking a toll on his body now. I thought Dinda could do the same but is still not a finished product.

  • on September 27, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    That is a good finding Aakash. May be such an article would be applicable to all IPL fast bowlers in times to come. Here, your suggestion to cut down matches stands tall.

  • on September 27, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Apart from form or fitness(or whatever) what hurts him more is the lack of support from the fellow bowlers.

  • on September 27, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @India_boy Like it or not but jonathanjoesphs has point. Zaheer cant be compared with the likes of Steyn and probably is just as good Anderson. I would suggest you check how Steyn and Anderson have faired in India. Steyn averages less than 20 and Anderson has returns similar to that of Zaheer. But Zaheer hasn't performed as well as either of them overseas (in Aus, SA and England). Srinath is the best fast bowler India had after Kapil (probably as good as Kapil himself if not better, only thing robing him of greatness was fitness).

  • Romanticstud on September 27, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    One must remember ... with age fitness maintenance is more difficult ... injuries creep in a lot easier ... So to protect one from injury ... One bowls with less effort ... Maybe ... Look at Jaques Kallis ... he may bowl less ... but always bowls with intensity ... One of India's problems is a decent successor to Zaheer ... He bowls too much in a match because of India's dependancy ... Matbe if Sreesanth dropped a bit of pace for accuracy he would be India's best bowler ... Variation is also key ... If you bowl ... bowl clever ... mix up the deliveries ... pace and line ... bowl round and over the wicket ... change the length ... slower and fuller ... faster and a bit shorter ... keep the batsman guessing ... just like a spinner ... when will the yorker come ... when the bouncer ... when the inswinger ... when the outswinger ... when the slower ball ... what variation of slower ball ... a spinner ... a slider ... a cutter ... a flipper ... a googly ... a china man ...

  • yoohoo on September 27, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    @LillianThomson - You want to drop the highest wicket taker in the 2011 WC (21 wkts)? The fact is that

    Avgs in subcontinent for fast bowlers tend to be bad in general. It is a fact of life, and to not consider that is naive. If you look at the 2008/09 australian series in india Stuart Clark avgd 80, brett lee 61 and mitchell johnson 40 and zaheer avgd 43. And in the 2009/10 SA series in india Morne Morkel avgd 59 while zaheer avgd 31. That doesn't make them bad bowlers. Just shows how tough it is for fast bowlers in the subcontinent. In any other team he would have been in the hall of fame already.

  • sony_sr on September 27, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    I guess its time for india to move on from zaheer era.

  • on September 27, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    Agree,looks like his fitness levels are bad, Aakashji. Team India needs him at least till our quicks are stabilized & get going.

  • LillianThomson on September 27, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    @India_Boy: you try to excuse Zaheer's mediocre average by stating that he played half his Tests in the subcontinent. Big deal. So did Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar. I watched Zaheer closely in Australia nine months ago and I was horrified. He ambled in gently, tossed down his deliveries at around 123K and didn't bother to follow through. He got minimal bounce and carry as a result. My Indian friends heckled him as lazy, but I thought that he was simply a fast bowler who has neglected his body and now no longer has the physical means to do his job properly. Which in itself suggests that he hasn't thought through his game properly, because I remember the extreme lengths that McGrath, Ambrose and Walsh went to to ensure that when they were a fair bit older they still bowled 10K faster and got far more bounce.

  • kharidra on September 27, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Match winners are generally having the ability to run through sides by having a rich haul of wickets and not just key wickets. Supporting bowlers usually provide such capability while attacking bowlers stretch beyond pain barriers to achieve such results.When fitness holds such characteristics are on display. The batsman who is fit is able to run hard take ones where there are none, and two where there is one and three where there is two and wins matches anchoring right through. Similarly a fit bowler is able to provide such sustained spells to run through sides. The neutralizing of Indian bowlers after wearing away of the new ball has been a contributing factor for bleak performance. With the softer old ball hitting the deck hard is of paramount importance for which fitness of the bowlers is required. The jump on the delivery stride is key to getting the softer ball to bounce. Body fitness will be the only way to coordinate, the bounce, swing,seam, pace to achieve results.

  • contrast_swing on September 27, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    Its so nice to see that people have not forgotten Srinath. Now that Zaheer has been elevated to the status of Sachin Tendulkar of Bowling we should just once look at his record. There are 10 5+ wicket hauls in 85 matches, Srinath had 10 5+wickets hauls in 67 matches. So even when Zaheer is at his best, he less frequent than Srinath.

    Match | Average | Wickets | Strike Rate | 5+W | 10+W

    Srinath 67 | 30.49 | 236 | 64.0 | 10 | 1 Zaheer 85 | 32.06 | 291 | 58.6 | 10 | 1 Kapil 131 | 29.64 | 434 | 63.9 | 23| 2

    That is in fact even Kapil was not that great.

  • India_boy on September 27, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    @jonathanjoesphs...let us give your theory a test. You are saying that Steyn Morkel Anderson lee etc had a lot lower average than Zaheer. Did you consider the fact that these guys bowl most of the times(at least 80%) on fast swinging and bouncy pitches in Aus, SA, NZ and Eng? Zaheer khan bowls mostly on the flat dust tracks of India and SL. You are from SL yourself, dont u realise how difficult and back breaking it is to bowl fast on subcontinental pitches? cmon, of all the cricketers in the world I have the most respect for fast bowlers in Asia and spinners in Aus/SA because they fight against the conditions unlike fast bowlers in Aus/SA and spinners in Asia who are served wickets on a platter(Steyn in an exception)

  • BrianCharlesVivek on September 27, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Zaheer second best fast bowler in India?? LOL...Out of 10 years he played he was in "form" for 2-3 years which included the world cup and England Series which India won. Apart from that he is just an ordinary bowler who could bowl well when conditions helped him. There was another man called SRINATH and we comfortably forget him.

  • on September 27, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    I believe it even has a lot to do with the 2 new balls in ODIs. It must be difficult to get the old ball to move as much, if the ball really isn't 'old'! Same applies in t20s. As for tests, we haven't really got a chance to seen him reverse-swinging in Indian conditions because of the spinners dominating.

  • sweetspot on September 27, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    It's most definitely fitness. Staying out of injury is not enough. True fitness is being able to generate that ten percent more when you want it. Zaheer may simply not want it that much any more. He seemed emotionally content after winning the WC and has never really been that hungry since, except in the IPL. I'm not blaming the IPL, mind you, but it might mean more for him to add the IPL to his sense of wins than to be on another tour.

  • on September 27, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    I thought it was common knowledge that Zaheer was unfit. Still, hopefully someone important will notice this piece and tell Zak to pull his finger out and get back in to shape if he wants the Indian team to go anywhere in Tests.

  • cricketfanindia on September 27, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    I have also been thinking about this and I tend to partly agree. There is nothing specific about the world cup - in the final, Zaheer had an immaculate first spell where he kept Dilshan and Tharanga extremely quiet and later Sangakara. It is death over bowling that suffered as he gave runs in his final two overs. Death over bowling is about reversing and bowling yorkers on the stumps. Zaheer has to work on this if he is to continue to be the spearhead for India. For now, Dhoni should bite the bullet and push Zaheer to bowl 3 overs upfront and help claim wickets in an early spell and then bowl the 17th over in the T20 WC. Post T20WC, Zaheer has to work on reversing the ball but given that he is injury prone, the team has to bowl around him. The inclusion of Pathan in an allround role might help reduce the load on Zaheer in the test team. For ODIs, he can avoid death overs and focus on a good first spell and 3 overs in the power play. Umesh and Ishant must step up and Sreesanth come back

  • Amit_13 on September 27, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    Aakash, I can see the cause of the problem. But since when has missing games as counter for lack of fitness become an acceptable answer? The best bowler before him, Kapil Dev, has the proud record of never missing games due to fitness / injury. I'd love to be that bowler with or without the wickets at the standard I play, let alone international cricket.

  • LillianThomson on September 27, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    Zaheer Khan is going to be 34 years old next week, and he averages a mediocre 32 as a Test bowler. Quite why he should have any international future is a mystery to me. He had four good Test years when he combined movement with enough pace and bounce, but now he is bowling at the same pace as Mudassar Nazar, Ricky Ponting, Jonathan Trott and Abdul Razzaq. It's time for India to move on.

  • yogi.s on September 27, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    It's a good article by akash with good technical analysis and coherent logic. I hope for the sake of india that zak returns to wicket taking ways. Even if he doesnt perform that well at the t20 wc I hope he finds good form ahead of the home season coming up.

  • vaidyar on September 27, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    Nice analysis Aakash.But disagree that he's the best after Kapil Dev. KD wasn't even a fast bowler, more of a seamer relying on swing. And Srinath is the better fast bowler. He bowled without guidance and could run through a line up on his own, which Zak can't. He might provide the breakthroughs and take the 5-fors. But complete annihilation of an attack or what you'd call running through, that only Srinath could do - remember against Pak '99 and SA '96. His average is also much better than Zak. And do remember that there were no bowling coaches then, which he rued much later in his career after coming under John Wright.

  • on September 27, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    I would think srinath should not be forgotten when talking about best indian fast bowler after kapil

  • johnathonjosephs on September 27, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    I'm sorry guys, but a fast bowling average of 29 in your peak days is not that great at all. Steyn, Morkel, Anderson, Lee, and many others have achieved lot lower averages than this. The reason Zaheer is not performing well is because simply he is not that great of a bowler, even though he is India's best.

  • wc1992 on September 27, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    he had 2, 3 good years after Wasim help him that it ....he just a ordinary bowler amoung the useless indan fast bowlers

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  • wc1992 on September 27, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    he had 2, 3 good years after Wasim help him that it ....he just a ordinary bowler amoung the useless indan fast bowlers

  • johnathonjosephs on September 27, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    I'm sorry guys, but a fast bowling average of 29 in your peak days is not that great at all. Steyn, Morkel, Anderson, Lee, and many others have achieved lot lower averages than this. The reason Zaheer is not performing well is because simply he is not that great of a bowler, even though he is India's best.

  • on September 27, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    I would think srinath should not be forgotten when talking about best indian fast bowler after kapil

  • vaidyar on September 27, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    Nice analysis Aakash.But disagree that he's the best after Kapil Dev. KD wasn't even a fast bowler, more of a seamer relying on swing. And Srinath is the better fast bowler. He bowled without guidance and could run through a line up on his own, which Zak can't. He might provide the breakthroughs and take the 5-fors. But complete annihilation of an attack or what you'd call running through, that only Srinath could do - remember against Pak '99 and SA '96. His average is also much better than Zak. And do remember that there were no bowling coaches then, which he rued much later in his career after coming under John Wright.

  • yogi.s on September 27, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    It's a good article by akash with good technical analysis and coherent logic. I hope for the sake of india that zak returns to wicket taking ways. Even if he doesnt perform that well at the t20 wc I hope he finds good form ahead of the home season coming up.

  • LillianThomson on September 27, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    Zaheer Khan is going to be 34 years old next week, and he averages a mediocre 32 as a Test bowler. Quite why he should have any international future is a mystery to me. He had four good Test years when he combined movement with enough pace and bounce, but now he is bowling at the same pace as Mudassar Nazar, Ricky Ponting, Jonathan Trott and Abdul Razzaq. It's time for India to move on.

  • Amit_13 on September 27, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    Aakash, I can see the cause of the problem. But since when has missing games as counter for lack of fitness become an acceptable answer? The best bowler before him, Kapil Dev, has the proud record of never missing games due to fitness / injury. I'd love to be that bowler with or without the wickets at the standard I play, let alone international cricket.

  • cricketfanindia on September 27, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    I have also been thinking about this and I tend to partly agree. There is nothing specific about the world cup - in the final, Zaheer had an immaculate first spell where he kept Dilshan and Tharanga extremely quiet and later Sangakara. It is death over bowling that suffered as he gave runs in his final two overs. Death over bowling is about reversing and bowling yorkers on the stumps. Zaheer has to work on this if he is to continue to be the spearhead for India. For now, Dhoni should bite the bullet and push Zaheer to bowl 3 overs upfront and help claim wickets in an early spell and then bowl the 17th over in the T20 WC. Post T20WC, Zaheer has to work on reversing the ball but given that he is injury prone, the team has to bowl around him. The inclusion of Pathan in an allround role might help reduce the load on Zaheer in the test team. For ODIs, he can avoid death overs and focus on a good first spell and 3 overs in the power play. Umesh and Ishant must step up and Sreesanth come back

  • on September 27, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    I thought it was common knowledge that Zaheer was unfit. Still, hopefully someone important will notice this piece and tell Zak to pull his finger out and get back in to shape if he wants the Indian team to go anywhere in Tests.

  • sweetspot on September 27, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    It's most definitely fitness. Staying out of injury is not enough. True fitness is being able to generate that ten percent more when you want it. Zaheer may simply not want it that much any more. He seemed emotionally content after winning the WC and has never really been that hungry since, except in the IPL. I'm not blaming the IPL, mind you, but it might mean more for him to add the IPL to his sense of wins than to be on another tour.