"Zaheer is very critical to us in the long term," Dravid said, when asked if the team would miss him in the three One-day tournaments that are lined up.
"The selectors have to make a decision on whether they want to look at him from a short-term goal or from a long-term," he said in Bangalore on the sidelines of a function.
A not-fully-fit Zaheer was not picked by the selectors earlier this month for the Videocon Cup in Holland (August 21-28), NatWest Challenge in England (September 1-5) and ICC Champions Trophy in England (September 10 to 25).
"Zaheer worked really hard this season. Unfortunately, he has had a few injuries. But, hopefully, he will have sometime off; get stronger and fitter. Everyone accepts that a fit Zaheer is very important to Indian cricket in the long run."
When a reporter said Zaheer is injured "most of the time", Dravid said it's unfair to make such a comment. Fast bowling is not easy and a lot of bowlers get injured, he said, citing the case of Australian bowler Brett Lee, who had been out of action for five months.
The nature and demand of fast bowling is such that it puts pressure on the body. It's a question of 'maintaining and managing'. "Some people (who don't get injured) are luckier than the most," Dravid added.