Fitness is key to fast bowling: Zaheer

Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 0:06 [IST]
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Bangalore: With Javagal Srinath widely perceived to be in the twilight of his career, speedster Zaheer Khan is working hard towards becoming India's strike bowler and believes fitness is going to be key. "Obviously, it's a great responsibility and great honour to become leading bowler," Zaheer told reporters here when asked as to how did he feel about the prospect of becoming the strike bowler as Srinath is doubtful for the upcoming series against New Zealand at home. "With the responsibility, the pressure is going to be more and expectations very high.

I am working hard towards that. Fitness will take care," he said. Srinath has opted out of the ongoing conditioning camp because of knee injury and said he would decide about his availability for the series against New Zealand soon. Zaheer, among the 36 probables attending the conditioning camp in preparation for the gruelling season ahead, said his main aim is to get into the same rhythm as the last season. He said the way he looks at his bowling is in terms of rhythm. "If I bowl well, wickets are going to come sooner or later. I should be able to deliver at consistent pace." Asked about the experience of the recent World Cup in South Africa, Zaheer said overall, it was good and team spirit was high.

"We were enjoying every moment and there are lots of moments to cherish." On the team's downfall in the final, he said everyone was trying to get that extra bit leading to plans going haywire. Asked about his personal goals for the season, Zaheer said he does have short-term and long-term goals but added that he would not like to disclose them. Right now, he is trying to improve his fitness. On the ongoing conditioning camp here, it has been good but hectic and everybody is working hard on fitness.

"It's good that we are pushing ourselves now in the camp." "Fitness is going to be key as fast bowling is concerned. In Test matches one needed to bowl in long spells. One has to be fit enough to deliver," he said. On many now taking to fast bowling, Zaheer said overall, bowlers have done very well in the last couple of years and there are a lot of positive things in the bowling department.

There is now greater awareness on fitness and it's helping bowlers to bowl quickly. The number of academies established in the country are helping produce good cricketers. Zaheer declined to talk about India's tour of Australia saying he is now concentrating only on the New Zealand series. To a question, he said he decided to play Ranji Trophy semi-final for Baroda soon after the Dhaka tournament because the team was working hard and he wanted to boost the morale of the players.

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