Zaheer: desperate to catch the selectors' attention © Getty Images

Zaheer Khan has joined Surrey as an unpaid amateur, and he made an instant impact as he blasted out two wickets in his first over. His stint at Surrey is with a view to getting match-fit ahead of India's next assignment, the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in July. Surrey couldn't sign him as an overseas player because he didn't possess a work permit, but in any case, the arrangement is likely to be a short-term one.

Saqlain Mushtaq, Surrey's overseas professional, has been sidelined with a knee injury, and that allowed Zaheer to make his debut in a Totesport match against Essex on Sunday. His impact was immediate, with two wickets in the opening over - including one off the very first ball he bowled as Surrey registered their first victory of any kind this season.

Zaheer's injury woes started in Australia last winter, when a torn hamstring forced him to miss two of the four Tests and the VB Series. He recovered in time to play the one-day series against Pakistan, but limped out of the Test series in Multan. And with Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra all having performed creditably in Pakistan, Zaheer's position at the spearhead of India's pace attack has been under threat.

Speaking to BBC Sport, a Surrey spokesman said, "The arrangement suits both parties." But it remains to be seen though how long Zaheer intends to turn out for the team that has dominated county cricket in recent seasons. "I would think he'll definitely play in the next championship game and maybe the one after that, but we'll just have to see," said the spokesman.

"Zaheer has been training with us for the past week and wanted to sign as an overseas player. But when he couldn't, he decided to play anyway in an amateur capacity. He just wants to prove to the Indian selectors that he is fit and playing well."