Zaheer set to get 'provisonal' nod for Oz tour
The left-arm paceman, hoping he can recover fully from an ankle surgery in time for India's tour of Australia starting next month, was seen training with Mumbai ahead of their last two Ranji Trophy encounters. Amol Karhadkar reports.cricket Updated: Nov 21, 2011 00:49 IST
Watching Zaheer Khan bowling in the home team's nets has become a routine affair over the last fortnight. The left-arm paceman, hoping he can recover fully from an ankle surgery in time for India's tour of Australia starting next month, was seen training with Mumbai ahead of their last two Ranji Trophy encounters.
On Sunday, Zaheer moved from the Brabourne Stadium to the Wankhede Stadium, where he trained with the national team for the first time in four months since he broke down during India's first Test in England in July.
Despite taking yet another leap towards match fitness, Zaheer was far from assured of boarding the flight to Australia in December.
Though he is set to be named in the touring party when the selectors pick the team here on Saturday - a day after they name the squad for the ODI series against West Indies — his will only be a "provisional" selection.
It means if India's pace spearhead over the last decade fails to prove his match fitness during Mumbai's Ranji encounters against Orissa (in Cuttack from November 29) and Saurashtra (in Rajkot from December 6), he may not travel to Australia. Mumbai Cricket Association officials confirmed that Zaheer wants to mark his return to first-class cricket in Cuttack.
On Sunday, after spending some time on the physio's table, Zaheer, who returned to the Wankhede for the first time since the World Cup final triumph against Sri Lanka on April 2, warmed up for half-an-hour with physio Ashish Kaushik monitoring him.
The 33-year-old then moved to the nets, bowling 28 balls to Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and VVS Laxman. Zaheer, who recently said he was building up step-by-step towards match fitness, bowled within himself.
While the India team would be elated to see Zaheer running in to bowl at their key batsmen, they would keep their fingers crossed for him to be certified fit for the challenge Down Under.