Fitness 'on track', says Zaheer

Zaheer Khan appeals successfully against Alastair Cook AFP

Zaheer Khan, the India seamer who returned to competitive cricket this week after an ankle surgery, has said he feels fit and his recovery is ahead of schedule.

"Physically, I am feeling fine," Zaheer told Mumbai Mirror. "Bowling-wise, I need to get the rhythm going. I am feeling a bit tired after the match [Mumbai v Orissa], which is a good thing because it means I have put in the effort.

"It's looking good, everything is on track, probably a week ahead of schedule. Everyone is happy, the physios are happy and I am also happy. The next game is crucial for me. After playing it, I will see how I feel."

Zaheer was out with injury between August and November. He had injured his right hamstring on the first day of the England-India Test series this summer, following which a recurring ankle injury forced him to have surgery. He was then provisionally selected for the tour of Australia, the condition being that he prove his fitness in the Ranji Trophy.

Subsequently, he played Mumbai's match against Orissa from November 29, bowling 22 overs in the match for four wickets. "Since I haven't played a single game for four months, the main thing I was looking for was to get back in that environment, spending time on the field, as we have to in Test matches.

"In that way this was perfect, I got to bowl a spell on the first day and then I again got to bowl 16 overs. So in one-and-a-half day I managed to bowl 22 overs, which is an exact simulation of a Test match."

Zaheer will play Mumbai's next game, against Saurashtra from December 6. Some of India's Test specialists are scheduled to leave early for Australia, to allow them extra time to acclimatise, but Zaheer said he had chosen to play the extra Ranji Trophy match. "I would prefer to play a match. That is what I have conveyed [to the BCCI]."