Injury forces Zaheer out of Irani Cup

Zaheer Khan stretched during practice Associated Press

Zaheer Khan's involvement in the initial stages of the upcoming Test series against Australia is in doubt after he was recommended another three weeks rest to regain match fitness. The first Test is scheduled to start on February 22 in Chennai.

Zaheer was yet to recover from the calf injury sustained earlier this month during the Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat and was left out of Mumbai's 15-member squad for the Irani Cup. He took a five-wicket haul in Mumbai's thrilling win against Madhya Pradesh, but didn't bowl in the second innings of the next match against Gujarat - a game in which he led the Mumbai side. He was not part of the team during the knockout stages as Mumbai emerged winners for the 40th time.

Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, who were the other absentees during the later stages of Ranji Trophy due to international cricket, were included and will bolster a batting line-up that includes Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer and Abhishek Nayar. Rohit scored 712 runs in six Ranji matches this year, with two centuries and a double-century, while Rahane played in three matches and scored one century. Nikhil Patil jnr and Sushant Marathe were left out to make way for the two batsmen.

Ajit Agarkar will lead Mumbai against the Virender Sehwag-led Rest of India for the Irani Cup at the Wankhede stadium from February 6.

Mumbai squad: Ajit Agarkar (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Kaustubh Pawar, Abhishek Nayar, Hiken Shah, Aditya Tare (wk), Ankeet Chavan, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur, Vishal Dabholkar.