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Rediff.com  » Cricket » I need to work more on my fitness: Zaheer

I need to work more on my fitness: Zaheer

December 14, 2004 19:35 IST

Zaheer Khan's record-breaking 75 in the first Test against Bangaldesh at Dhaka has capped his successful comeback from a period of injuries and bad form.

From the high of spearheading the Indian bowling in the World Cup, things changed dramatically for Zaheer within a year's time as he watched India score victories in Australia and Pakistan in his absence.

But now that his worst days are behind him, the Baroda fast bowler is keen to look forward.

"You can't help certain things, you can't change them. I want to look ahead and keep moving, I am sure there are good things ahead for me," he said.

Zaheer has not exactly been among the wickets this season and for the most part been a support cast to his statemate Irfan Pathan.

But the endurance and consistency that marked him as a talent when he made his debut four years ago is back and it was especially evident in the Kanpur Test against South Africa where he was the team's only recognised fast bowler.

"I definitely feel happy about the way things have gone. I have played all the seven Tests and done well. Of course, there is scope for improvement," Zaheer said.

"I am looking forward to the break after this series, when I plan to work on my fitness and improve my bowling further," Zaheer said.

The one thing that may be lacking in his bowling is the speed. He had averaged near the 130 kmph mark whereas he used to bowl close to 140 kmph earlier.

Zaheer said a bit more fine tuning would help him add a couple of yards to his pace.

"It is all about rhythm. When you hit the right length obviously your pace becomes better. I also need to work a bit more on my fitness."

He said he has taken the negative criticism and the troubled times of last year in his stride.

"When you are not doing well, people criticise. You have got to live with that. The motivation for me was to control things that I could control. I kept my focus on things that I can do better."

Zaheer denied that he rushed his comebacks last season when he frequently broke down with one injury after another.

"Not really. Andrew (Leipus) did not know exactly why the injuries were happening, so we did not know in which direction to go.

"When one muscle got injured and I did all that was required to comeback from that, then a different muscle would give away. It was only after the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, Andrew could figure what was going wrong and from there on we could decide on the direction (of treatment)," he said.

Zaheer said the 2002-03 season when both his personal and the team's graph kept going upwards would remain his best phase.

"We kept performing well throughout. At Headingley (in England), we performed as a unit. And likewise in Trinidad (during the tour of the West Indies), I combined well with Srinath and Ashish Nehra.

"It was very satisfying that I could provide the breakthroughs when the team needed it," he said.

Captain Sourav Ganguly was full of praise for Zaheer's batting exploits during India's innings and 140-run win over Bangladesh on Monday.

"We would have declared after lunch (on the third day) but he (Zaheer) was going well and keen to get his hundred, so we did not," Ganguly said after the match.

But the batsman himself was not aware of his achievement.

"I was not aware of it until I came back and my teammates told me about it," said Zaheer, who surpassed the previous best of 68 not out by New Zealand's Richard Collinge against Pakistan in Auckland in 1972-73.

For a bowler who took to serious cricket only at the age of 17, his growth has been pretty rapid.

"I guess it was a natural thing. I had the talent, but more importantly I got the breakthroughs at the right time, and the right people helped me at the right time."

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