Down but not out, Zaheer eyes ICC Trophy

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Snubbed for the home series against England and the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka, Zaheer Khan, however, asserts that he is down but not out and the left-arm pacer oozed confidence of a comeback before the Champions Trophy.

Currently regaining his form and fitness with Worcestershire, the Baroda seamer told Cricinfo magazine that though he had expected to be inducted in the series against England, he is not losing his sleep over the exclusion and instead, is preparing for a return to the side.

''I was very disappointed not to be picked for the England series, but I've left that behind. That's why I have decided to come here (Worcestershire) and perform. My answer to everything is performance. I've just decided to keep performing,'' he said.

Zaheer, who has been in good form for his county, helping the side to move into the first division, also admitted that he was disappointed for the second time in a row after failing to find a place in the Lanka-bound team.

''I was expecting a recall for the Sri Lanka series but things didn't happen,'' he rued.

The former Team India spearhead, however, refuses to give in and knows he would have to be patient for a comeback.

''You just have to be patient. The good thing is, I have more matches here to stay in touch. The Champions Trophy and the South Africa tour are two big series that I am gearing up for,'' he said.

Zaheer has been plagued by injuries but the seamer believes bowling long spells in county cricket has done him a world of good.

''It (fitness) was one of the main reasons why I came here. I've been bowling a lot of overs (an average of 20 overs per innings) and that's helped in picking up my fitness level. It's added to my confidence as well, and I'm very happy with the rhythm,'' he explained.

''The weather here is a big factor. The pitches you get here are totally different from India. There you rely a lot more on getting the ball to reverse. Here the conditions are more helpful' the ball does more if it's overcast,'' added Zaheer.

Meanwhile, the Indian seemed an instant hit in the Worcestershire dressing room and his captain Vikram Solanki vouches for that.

''I've played with some of the very fine overseas players like Glenn McGrath, Tom Moody, Andy Bichel, Kenneth Benjamin, Chaminda Vaas but I would not be speaking out of turn if I say that Zak ranks right on top,'' said an impressed Solanki.

''He comes out as an ambasador, and the way he goes about what he does is a sure reflection of an Indian Test player. He hasn't let himself down,'' he said.

''What has been a real asset is that he's made himself accessible to the boys. He's spoken a number of times to all about aspects of reverse swing, how to disguise it, how effective it can be,'' told Solanki, also announcing that ''Zak'' has been ''one of the best overseas pros we've had here.'' Middle order bat Ben Smith echoed his view and said ''I haven't played alongside a better bowler.''

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