Northampton, Aug 7: He is hailed as the Indian attack's premier spreahead. His brand of left arm bowling and the decade of experience under his belt is touted to serve India in good stead.
But with every two steps forward that Zaheer makes with unleashing his gamut of pace tricks, his recurring injuries take him one step backward. While assuming his role in one-day assignments with relish, it seems that bowling an eleventh over is what is causing him distress...
... and as coincidence would have it, it was after a mere 11.3 overs on Day 1 of the first Test against England in India's ongoing tour, that he pulled up with a hamstring strain. While consequently having to remain on the sidelines, he made the most of his time out, by following a regimen of rehabilitation. But even after weeks of training at the gym, the message is loud and clear that he is in no shape to return to the 22 yards.
With doctors projecting a minimum 14 to 16 weeks for a thorough convalescence, time for Zak as a component of team India is running out as, is possibly the trust that the selection panel has reposed in him.
After all, he had to hobble off the field during the last two Test series he played for India. In Oct-Nov 2010, a groin injury surfaced which coerced him into sitting out a portion of second home Test against New Zealand last year.
The strain re-emerged during India'a much anticipated first Test against South Africa in the 2010-11 season in the Rainbow Nation. Somehow he managed to pull himself together and help India rally the opponents to take his side to victory in the second Test there.
However, the statistics of Zaheer's bowling since last Oct haven't been very encouraging with him having come up with a mere 70-odd Test overs since then.
With India's current pace contingent grappling for form big time, Zaheer's outser is no doubt a huge setback which could very well see India lose the third Test against, the series and their NO.l I ranking.