Fast bowlers are seldom made captains of cricket teams. The long-standing stereotype that these usually well-muscled operators are all brawn and no brain stands in the way of them being given leadership roles. But Zaheer Khan has shown in recent times that you don't need to be appointed to a post to assume a leadership role. The guidance he has given young bowlers and the manner in which he has taken the pressure off Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the field, has played a major role in India's successes. The left-armer opened up about how he viewed his role in the Indian scheme of things.
On the need to try different things in T20
The game is evolving, no doubt. In this format, the first six overs are crucial when batsmen are looking to score and the pressure is always on them right from the start. That's the reason captains are eager to try out new things. Try out spinners so that they can apply brakes on the momentum. I look at it that way. There's nothing wrong in starting with spinners. The game is evolving and new strategies are coming in and understanding of the game is getting better every day. All these are just to do with the format of the game.
On batsmen innovating and bowlers reverting to the basics
Understanding what are batsmen's strengths and setting fields accordingly is very important. In terms of variations, you saw in last the IPL a lot of bowlers using different fields; like earlier we hardly saw mid-wicket drop back in matches but now you see it regularly. It's not true that the bowlers aren't going beyond the slower yorkers. We are trying out various things too, but it's just that the pressure on batsmen to score at a high rate is more. That's the reason for more improvised shots.
On his partnership with Dhoni
In T20, it's really important to have a clear game plan. Game is so dynamic there's not much time to think. You need to have a proper plan before going into the match. As far as setting fields is concerned, I have been lucky in that way. I have always got the freedom. MS has full faith in me in setting the field.
On the different pressures playing for franchise and country
Pressure is always there when you play against good opponents, doesn't matter who you play for. IPL is a huge platform; pressure of performance is high. It's a different kind of pressure, you are sharing more responsibility in terms of getting a lot of youngsters along because a lot of domestic players are also playing. It's not the case with the Indian team. All the guys are experienced, they are playing together for a long time, they are more or less aware of the demands of the game.