'Fitness test' cleared, Zak looks set for Oz | sports | Hindustan Times
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'Fitness test' cleared, Zak looks set for Oz

The Indian team received a boost for the Australia tour when Zaheer Khan came up with a solid performance to prove his fitness on Thursday. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

sports Updated: Dec 03, 2011 01:02 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

The Indian team received a boost for the Australia tour when Zaheer Khan came up with a solid performance to prove his fitness on Thursday.

Playing his first competitive game since he broke down at Lord’s, Zaheer has so far bowled 22 overs against Orissa, including 16 on Thursday, and had a return of four wickets. The game was his fitness test and the verdict was unanimous, that he is ready for Australia.

The left-arm Mumbai pacer started the day with a six-over spell and hastened the end of Orissa's first innings with two wickets. He was required to do duty immediately when Mumbai enforced the follow-on and bowled another six-over spell, three each on either side of lunch.

The only special break he took was at the start of the Orissa second innings, when he missed the first four overs. It was learnt he was having a massage.

It is during the post-lunch session that he bowled the best ball of the day, producing an unplayable, rising delivery from the length to kiss Bipal Samantray’s bat for Wasim Jaffer to take the edge at second slip.

He improved with every spell, gaining in pace and running in quicker. He was most charged up during his third spell. In the four-over spell, when Orissa’s tailenders Laganjit Samal and Basant Mohanty put up a stiff resistance, Zaheer was firing on all cylinders with the experts rating his deliveries between 132 to 135 kph.

On display was his full range of skills. He mostly angled it in to the right-handers from over the wicket. But the big incoming ball, his most feared weapon, came out when Mumbai were struggling against tailenders. Zaheer got it on the spot against Samal, but luckily for the batsman he got an inside edge.

A pleased selector Surendra Bhave left with India physio Ashish Kaushik after Zaheer's third spell, after having a discussion with the bowler during the lunch break.

Former India pacer and Orissa coach, Debasish Mohanty, felt Zaheer was in good shape. “He was bending his back fully in the final spell. He is ready for Australia."