The left-arm paceman’s untiring effort bore fruit on Sunday against Sri Lanka in a match that was important for India to win. His spell projected the qualities that make Zaheer a top class bowler. There were pace, bounce and swing as Zaheer returned with man-of-the-match winning figures of 10-2-38-3. It was also the first time a bowler grabbed the honours in the on-going tri-series.
“It’s a good feeling to be back among wickets, especially after missing the action for some considerable time,” Zaheer said.
To hear him say those words was not surprising at all as the road to redemption was filled with thorns.
The injury he suffered during the Indian Premier League in April 2009 had forced the Mumbai paceman to sit out of international games for over seven months.
But since his return to action, against Sri Lanka at Rajkot on December 15, Zaheer has looked a different bowler – expensive, wayward and lacking in penetration.
Economy rate in the first seven one-dayers since his comeback read 8.80 (Rajkot), 6.30 (Nagpur), 7.00 (Cuttack), 4.90 (Kolkata), 3.87 (Delhi), 6.33 (Dhaka), 7.16 (Dhaka) for a combined tally of seven wickets. The effort was well below par from the team’s lead act.
“It is tough to be a bowler in one-day cricket, especially while bowling at the death in the sub-continent. Now, we have a new rule of that extra power play and we are adjusting to it. But at the same time, a bowler is expected to cut down on runs as well and he also has to take wickets. It is important for a bowler to have situational awareness. But I guess, one-day cricket is going to be like this in the future,” Zaheer said.
His scratchy form has not stopped Zaheer from working with younger bowlers in the side like Ashok Dinda and Sudeep Tyagi at the nets.
It was often Zaheer who monitored the net session when the youngsters polished their skills.
“It is good to see a lot of youngsters coming up, and it is my duty as a senior bowler to impart whatever I have learned. That’s how it worked when I walked into the Indian team nearly 10 years back.
“See, everybody makes mistakes and that is part of the growing process. Only thing is that you should take care not to repeat the mistakes while learning from them. That’s my duty with the youngsters, help them to learn and the rest is up to them,” he said.
On the appointment of Eric Simons as bowling coach, Zaheer said, “A specialist coach is always helpful, especially for the youngsters.”
DH News Service