India's bowling spearhead is yet to recover from the hamstring strain, which he suffered during the opening Test at Lord's, where he managed to bowl only 13.2 overs, and is likely to be ruled out.
Zaheer had missed the second Test at Trent Bridge for the same reason.
The 32-year-old, included in the team for the two-day game against the Northants, managed to bowl just three overs before leaving the field. Though he had practiced for the three successive days, bowling in his full run up, question marks remained over his return.
Asked about the player's chances, a team official confirmed that the physio is assessing the situation, and at the moment Zaheer's chances seem bleak.
With India 2-0 down in the series, the bowler was expected to perform a crucial role in ensuring a face-saving result.