Zaheer Khan termed the faith reposed in him by teams at the IPL auction "amazing," despite being sidelined from international cricket for a year. Zaheer last played a competitive fixture in May 2014, in the IPL, before he was ruled out by a tendon injury in his bowling arm.
After going unsold the first time his name came up in the auction, there was frenetic bidding between Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians in the second round, and Zaheer was eventually picked up by Daredevils for a whopping Rs 4 crore ($660,000), making him the fourth-highest earner in the auction.
"It was amazing that two teams showed such faith in me," Zaheer told ESPNcricinfo. "Frankly, I was a bit concerned about how people would look at me, as I was completely out of the game for a long time. It [being picked] is an added responsibility on me."
Zaheer said it was easier for him to pick the T20 format over first-class cricket, having been away from the field for so long. "The reason I stayed away from Ranji Trophy this season was because of the workload," he said. "[Playing the longer format] was still seven-eight weeks away. [But] I knew I could bowl four overs, and contribute in other ways in an IPL team by helping out younger bowlers. I don't want my last memory to be one of walking off the field injured."
Zaheer also said he knew Mumbai would bid for him. "Obviously I was a part of Mumbai Indians, and I have been in touch with their management during my injury. They knew my status, and they really wanted me to be there. Surely it wasn't a surprise that they went for me."
Playing under Gary Kirsten and TA Sekhar in the Daredevils set-up, Zaheer said, was something he was looking forward to. "Gary has seen me for a long time, and so has Mr. Sekhar. It will be great to work with them," he said.
Zaheer was first ruled out of IPL 2014 with a muscle strain, his left latissimus dorsi muscle, after which he said he was unlikely to be fit for the Champions League T20 in September. The long lay-off has helped Zaheer get up to date with some of his other interests.
"Injuries do bring something. I started this new venture called ProSport which is mainly an injuries and rehabilitation centre," he said. "This injury was very different. I was aiming to play CLT20, but I got injured in May. It was very frustrating to be injured with the World Cup around the corner. I was hoping to do the right things, but my body was not responding. You got to listen to your body. If you are not ready, you are not ready."
Zaheer, however, is not inclined to stop playing the longer formats. "I just basically want to start playing again. Things are looking good, and hopefully they will stay that way."