The IPL has been the ideal platform for Zaheer Khan to return to full fitness following a foot injury that flared up in Australia and forced him to miss the next six Tests. Zaheer is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps and will battle against contender, Irfan Pathan (12), here on Monday. The 29-year-old spoke exclusively to HT on Sunday.
You are the leading wicket-taker, but does it mean much when the team is not winning?
It was important for me to get the rhythm going. At the same time, when the team is losing, you obviously feel you need to do something about it. We have not had a great run. So, we are looking forward to the last six games.
Does the team's poor run have a negative effect on the bowlers?
That's T20 for you. It is about gaining momentum. We have seen teams getting into the winning mode, that's what we are struggling to achieve. The game changes so quickly that it is important to win crucial moments.
Happy with the way things are going on your comeback?
I have always been clear that I do not want to overwork myself. I was able to bowl 5-6 overs with intensity. That's how I want to go about and gradually increase the workload. T20 has been perfect for me. I know I have to bowl four
overs and I give it everything.
Some of your contemporaries like Nehra, Balaji and Pathan have come back well after injuries & poor form.
It is good to see Nehra and Balaji do well after a long absence. Injuries play a big role in one's career so it is important to look after yourself. It is a difficult phase for any sportsman to go through injury and not easy to come back. Irfan has picked up from Australia. He is swinging the ball the way he used to and is in good rhythm.
How keen were you to excel in Australia before injury cut short the trip?
I started well like the last tour. It is something between Australia and me. I had doubts about my foot, which was troubling for some time. The ligament actually snapped in Kolkata (the Pak series). I thought it was okay. But when I realised it was going out of hand, I consulted in Australia and the doctors advised me to take it off as it might have hampered my bowling in the long run. I have to wait for my chance now.
How pleasing is it to see a young quick bowler like Ishant develop?
We always knew he had the potential but he still has a long way to go. He is very focused and eager to learn.
Does it mean that by playing here, you are fit for Tests and ODIs?
Of course, if you are playing so many matches, you are in touch with the game. I still have to see how I go in the next two months.