'I'm a couple of weeks away from regaining fitness' - Zaheer

Zaheer Khan takes a break during India's practice session PA Photos

India fast bowler Zaheer Khan has said he is only a few weeks away from regaining full fitness, as he prepares for selection for the tour of Australia that starts next month.

India's premier strike bowler suffered a hamstring injury at the start of the Lord's Test in July, and was then diagnosed with a right ankle impingement that required surgery, forcing him to miss the entire tour. His absence was one of the reasons for India's poor tour of England, where they were whitewashed 4-0 in the Tests and failed to win any of the limited-overs games. Zaheer, who hasn't played for India since, has been training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

"I'm in a pretty good state of mind right now because I've learnt to handle things better. I feel I'm just a couple of weeks away from regaining full fitness," Zaheer told the Times of India." I only have to complete all the formalities of passing the fitness test. I am excited about playing a few first-class games. I have spent the last few weeks at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, was in rehab, worked on my fitness and now I feel good. I have started bowling in the nets. I have to keep going at it for another week or two and I'll be ready for a four-day match."

Zaheer was among several players who broke down in England and the team management and players were criticised for poor injury management and lack of preparation against a strong England Test side. Zaheer had skipped the West Indies tour that preceded the England trip to rest. He insisted, though, that he was fit for the England tour.

"Before I left for England, I don't think I was short of any preparation," Zaheer said. "In retrospect, I think I did the right thing by opting to go to England and again the right thing to opt out and go for surgery."

He also insisted that he wasn't hiding any injuries before the tour. "Ahead of the England series, for seven to eight months, I was playing with an inflammation, but that didn't hamper my performance," he said. "It is just unfortunate that the inflammation ruptured on the tour of England. But would that mean I was hiding my injury? No. I wouldn't say so."

He said the injury lay-off has only increased his hunger to get back into the team. "I think you need those insecurities to be around you. They help you be on your toes and make you battle-hungry. I am glad I don't feel all that secure or that I've created any kind of a zone for myself. In fact, I am looking forward to prove myself all over once again."