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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Zaheer Khan exudes confidence ahead of South Africa tour

Ace pacer Zaheer Khan is back in the national side as India embark on their tour of South Africa in December. Having led Mumbai to two victories in three games so far in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14, the left-arm pacer is in the thick of things and raring to go. (Also Read: India Squad for South Africa Series 2013)
“I am looking forward to joining the team (India). I will be playing this Ranji game [against Vidarbha]. It is going to be good to get some overs under the belt,” he said while speaking to the media in Mumbai ahead of the Ranji Trophy game scheduled to start on November 28 . (Also Read: India Tour of South Africa Schedule and Fixtures 2013)
Speaking about the upcoming tour, he said, “I have had some good memories of South Africa. My last comeback was there, so I am looking forward to it.”
Speaking about making his way back into the national side, Khan, who last played a Test in December 2012, said, “I was expecting that. Last year when I sat down and was thinking about exactly how to go about it, firstly (I thought) if I want to make my comeback or no? That was the biggest question for me. When the answer was ‘yes,’ I then chalked out a strategy. (I thought about) what was exactly needed and I did everything possible to make sure that I am there. Obviously, physical aspect was a big thing and I had to tackle that.”
"In consultation with lot of trainers and physios, I chalked out a plan and so far it works. Mentally, there was no problem; physically, there was a little (problem). It is important that I keep believing in myself, my abilities and just keep on putting the work. That's what I have always been doing so far in my career. This time it was no different,” he elaborated.
Discussing his journey back into the Indian team after working on his fitness, Khan said, “It has been a slow progress right from Shimoga (against West Indies A). When I went to Shimoga, I knew that I needed some overs under my belt to progress gradually. I didn't want anything to happen suddenly and I was kind of progressing slowly, but surely.”
"I have always believed that match practice is always the best practice, so that was on my mind and slowly things started picking up. The spell, which I bowled in Hubli towards the end, gave me lot of confidence, and from there I just picked it up," he said.
From there on the veteran pacer went on to perform for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy matches. Speaking about his spells in the domestic circuit, he mentioned, “It was more to do with getting in that zone as far as matches are concerned. Those spells…I was looking at it more from trying out different things. Once I had overs under my belt, I was comfortable being on the field, I was feeling that the recovery in between spells was spot on.”
“I was able to recover in between the spells and comeback the next day. So those were the things I was looking at. As far as Test matches are concerned, you have to not only put in effort on the first day, but the important thing is to make sure that you are ready from ball one,” he said.
Khan will be playing against Vidarbha at Wankhede Stadium before heading off to South Africa. He acknowledged that having trained at Bloemfontein in South Africa with fitness expert Adrian le Roux earlier this year has helped him acclimatise to those conditions.
Asked about leading the pace attack once again and guiding the youngsters, he said, “That has come naturally to me. If I can help someone, I don't hesitate to go up to him and say what I feel. Being a bowler in subcontinent is never an easy task. You have to keep encouraging them, keep giving them confidence. And it is about just backing yourself and believing that. The thought process is very important I feel, especially when you are playing in the subcontinent.”
One of the youngsters in the team, who will also be a part of the touring party to SA, is Mohammed Shami. Lauding the pacer, Khan stated, “The (bowling attack) is very promising. Shami produced a brilliant spell against the West Indies. It was like a dream spell and a dream debut for anyone. Considering the subcontinent, it is hard to get wickets here. And he not only bowled well with the new ball, but also with the old ball.”


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