Sri Lanka Board XI v Indians, tour match, Colombo, 1st day July 18, 2008

Zaheer makes a confident comeback

Zaheer Khan picked up two wickets in an inspired first spell © AFP

Two players pressing for places in their national teams for the first Test starting on Wednesday shone on the opening day of India's three-day warm up match against a Sri Lanka Board XI.

Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan, returning to competitive cricket after a lay off due to an ankle injury, bowled with his usual pace, not holding back anything, and was rewarded with two wickets for 35 runs off 12 overs.

His inspired first spell saw him pick up the wickets of Upul Tharanga for 6 and Chamara Kapugedera for 1. It was a bowling performance that gave him immense satisfaction. "The way I look at it, it is going to get better from here. I definitely set a platform coming into this series and I'm looking forward to playing in it," Zaheer said at the end of the day.

"It was good to bowl on a fresh wicket. The conditions weren't that bad. There was a nice cloud cover and it was a bit breezy right throughout so it worked in our favour," Zaheer said. "It was definitely humid that's one thing that we should be prepared for on the tour. To get them all out on the first day was a big positive for us. We have started this tour on a good note."

Zaheer said he enjoyed bowling with 19-year-old Ishant Sharma. "Ishant provided that extra pace and bounce from the other end. It was good to bowl in tandem with him because I could stick to my line and length and movement and he adding that extra pace element," Zaheer, the most experienced in the Indian fast bowling unit, said. "At this level, you have more responsibilities on your shoulders, of helping younger bowlers. This responsibility has helped me to think more about the game."

Chamara Silva, who like Zaheer is fighting for a place in the national team, was disappointed on being dismissed after making 68. "It was a good knock but if I could have extended it, I would have been happy. It was four down when I went into bat. At that time, [Thilina] Kandamby was in full flow. My role was to support him. It worked well for both of us and we found run making easy," he said.

Silva's place in the Sri Lankan middle order is threatened by the return of Thilan Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan. He said it was left to the national selectors to decide on who should play but added that he was more than happy the way he batted against a strong Indian bowling, which he said was their possible Test line-up. Supporting Zaheer and Ishant were the two experienced spinners, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.