Fit Zaheer in fray for South Africa tour

The bowler recently worked on his fitness in France after being dropped.

New Delhi: When it comes to tactical acumen, Zaheer Khan is one of the best fast bowlers that India has produced. But at 34, he isn’t getting any younger and injuries have reduced his appearances on the international circuit.

But Zaheer is not content to rest on past laurels and being just a mentor to young pacers. He underwent a 42-day training camp in France, and the move has not only made him leaner and stronger, but also improved his chances of making a comeback for India’s tour to South Africa later this year.

When Zaheer hobbled off the field at Lord’s in July 2011, holding his hamstring, it gave critics another opportunity to question his fitness.

Zaheer also missed most of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League as he was out of shape. Curtailing his run-up didn’t help matters either.

Speaking to Mail Today, a senior BCCI official confirmed that he was in the scheme of things as far as the Test series in South Africa is concerned.

“While there hasn’t really been any formal discussion among the selectors about the team for South Africa, Zaheer is definitely in the fray. It is good to see that he has used the time away from the game to work on his fitness."

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Talent has never been a question in his case, but fitness was.

“The team needs someone of Zaheer’s quality on South African wickets to guide the young pacers. While people have often felt that the current selection committee believes in promoting youngsters, they are of the firm belief that picking the best side is of utmost importance and age has nothing to do with it,” the official said.

In fact, even skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni confirmed on Monday that age was not a criterion when it comes to being picked in the Indian team.

“I don’t believe in talking about a young side. Age is not a factor. If a player delivers what the team expects of him, age doesn’t matter."

"As long as the player is in form and fit, he can be 32 or 42 or even 45. The player should be able to compete with the best and shouldn’t be a liability to the team,” Dhoni said.

And by looking at the pictures Zaheer posted on his Twitter account, he has definitely not given up hope of wearing the India cap again.


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