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Zaheer fitness a cause for concern ahead of first Test

There's both bad as well as good news for India. The bad news is pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is not fully fit ahead of the first Test starting on Thursday at Centurion. Subhash Rajta writes

cricket Updated: Dec 16, 2010 14:20 IST
Subhash Rajta

There's both bad as well as good news for India. The bad news is pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is not fully fit ahead of the first Test starting on Thursday at Centurion.

However, the paceman bowled 40 odd balls in the nets on Tuesday, after giving it a miss altogether on Monday. Even though he didn't go all out, the very fact he did bowl must have come as a huge relief to the Indian camp.

"He has a slight hamstring problem. He picked up the injury during the fourth ODI against the Kiwis," said a team official. When asked about his chances of getting fit for the first Test, the official said he was very much part of the squad as of now. "He bowled in the nets today and there's one more day to go before the Test. It would be premature at this stage to rule him out."

In case Zaheer fails to play, it will be a huge blow to India's hopes of posting their first ever test series victory in South Africa.

The experienced left-arm bowler holds the key to India's success with his intelligent and skilful bowling although India have quality new ball bowlers in S Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma. South Africa aren't reading much, or at least pretending to, into it. "We're not aware of it. It's for the Indian side to decide whether he's fit.

Anyways, they are a good bowling unit. Even if someone is missing, another can step up. Wasn't it Sreesanth who picked up five wickets in the Test they won last time," said Prince. The Proteas themselves appear to be casting aside their injury worries.

Skipper Smith, who suffered a finger injury, and Hashim Amla batted at the nets without any visible signs of discomfort after being named in the twelve.