What looks to be Sachin Tendulkar's final domestic match is evoking "mixed feelings" in the Mumbai dressing room, their captain, Zaheer Khan, has said. Zaheer added that while Mumbai were lucky to have Tendulkar for their Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana, they were also emotional about the farewell.
"It is a special game for all of us," Zaheer said. "The atmosphere is very festive. Everyone is excited to be seeing Sachin in the Ranji Trophy for the last time. As a team we are lucky to have him here. In a way it is like his farewell game. It is emotional and exciting and there are mixed feelings in the camp. The emotion and the occasion will help everyone put in that extra bit to perform.
"He is enjoying the game as he was when he started. It is very evident. We are happy to have him around. The way preparations are going, it's going to help him play those last two games [Tests against West Indies] as well."
Zaheer, who began his comeback recently against West Indies A, said he was pleased with how he was progressing, and that the focus was on regaining match fitness. "The couple of matches I played for India A were a good opportunity to get some overs under the belt. The rhythm is good, and as I played more it was coming along and things were falling in place.
"The more I bowl in match situations, the more it will help me. It's very important for me to get match fitness going. I am controlling the things I can control, making sure the routine is good, and keeping things on track. In terms of my follow-up on the fitness, a routine has been in place which I have been following for three and a half months."
Ajay Jadeja, Zaheer's Haryana counterpart, had remarked that one need not go all the way to France, like Zaheer had, to improve one's fitness, given the facilities as well as the quiet available in places like Lahli. Zaheer replied that it depended on one's perspective. "It's important that you put in the hard work in training. You can do it anywhere. It's just that sometimes you need a change, try new things, and look at things differently. The idea behind doing that [going to France] was completely different for me and I'm happy with the way things have gone. It's about how an individual looks at things."
With Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma on India duty, Zaheer is leading the side against Haryana. He said that he was trying to enjoy the temporary responsibility. "It's all about helping youngsters, keeping everyone together and making sure that everyone is enjoying each others company. Excited about the new role, even though it is not for long."