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Zaheer gears up for SA challenge

Mumbai (PTI): “I have ironed out things I felt were pulling me back. I am ready to take on the challenge. It is great to accept challenge and to live up to it,” Zaheer told reporters here.

The 35-year-old has been selected in the 17-member Test squad after taking 13 wickets in three Ranji Trophy matches at an average of 19.84 this season. His last Test was against England in Kolkata in December 2012. The senior pro said that incidentally his last comeback was also in South Africa. “I have had some good memories of South Africa. My last comeback was there, so I am looking forward to it,” he said.

Zaheer will be leading the Mumbai team in its Ranji Trophy match against Vidarbha, which commences on November 28 and he said it would be good to get some match practice before the South Africa tour. “Looking forward to join the team (Indian). I will be playing this Ranji game (against Vidarbha). It is going to be good to get some overs under the belt,” he said.

The left-arm seamer, who had been battling fitness issues, said he expected to make a comeback after working hard on the physical aspect. “I was expecting that. Last year when I sat down and was thinking about exactly how to go about, firstly if I want to make my comeback or no. That was the biggest question for me.

When the answer was yes, I then chalked out a strategy. What exactly was needed and I did everything possible to make sure that I am there. Obviously, physical aspect was a big thing and I had to tackle that. In consultation with lot of trainers and physios I chalked out a plan and so far it worked,” he said.

“Mentally there was no problem, physically there was a little (problem). It was important that I keep believing in myself, my abilities and just keep on putting the work. That’s what I have always been doing so far in my career. This time it was no different,” he said.
Zaheer said he progressed slowly and the spell against West Indies ‘A’ in Shimoga and Hubli last month helped his confidence.

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