We're familiar with Lanka conditions: Zaheer

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/z/zaheer1_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan said that the experience of having played in Sri Lanka recently would stand the team in good stead during its forthcoming visit.

Updated: January 22, 2009 09:10 IST
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Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who has forged a lethal bowling pair with lanky right armer Ishant Sharma, on Wednesday said that the experience of having played in Sri Lanka recently would stand the team in good stead during its forthcoming visit.

"We have returned from a tour of Sri Lanka just 4-5 months back. So in a way we are quite familiar with the conditions," said Zaheer on the sidelines of a promotional event.

India, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are to depart for the Emerald Isle on January 26 to play a five-match ODI series and a one-off Twenty 20 International against the hosts. The tour commences with the opening ODI at Dumbulla on January 28.

Zaheer was non-commital on the absence in the squad of a frontline off spinner, due to the hamstring injury to Harbhajan Singh, against a team stacked with left-handed batsmen.

"The decisions taken by the selectors are in the best interests of the team. A decision on the (final) team composition will be taken later."

In the absence of Harbhajan the selectors have included two left-arm spinners, Pragyan Ojha and Saurashtra all rounder Ravindra Jadeja in the 15-member team.

Asked how the team planned to counter the three Sri Lankan M's - Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan), (Ajantha) Mendis and captain Mahela (Jayawardene) -- who gave them a tough time on their previous visit in mid-2008 -- he said, "we are going to assemble soon. We will decide it then."

On his personal form, Zaheer - who is three short of claiming 200 Test wickets - said that he was in constant touch with the game and in good rhythm.

"I bowled a lot of overs in the semi-final and final of the Ranji Trophy which Mumbai won recently. I am in touch with the game and in good rhythm too," said the 30-year-old bowler, who has bagged 218 ODI wickets in 154 matches.

He also brushed aside suggestions that the 10-day gap between the end of the Lanka visit on February 10 and the departure of the squad to New Zealand was too short.

"All I know is the gap between the wickets is 22 yards. The only thing I know is to play as many matches as I can and keep myself match fit."

Zaheer, however, refused to comment on reports that the Indian Premier League franchise, Mumbai Indians were keen to swap India discard Robin Uthappa with him who represented Bangalore's Royal Challengers in the first season.

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