Colombo: Zaheer Khan has been the frontman for India's bowling attack ever since Anil Kumble retired in 2008. The other senior bowler, Ashish Nehra, was mostly out with injuries, while Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma have also been in the sidelines often. And Zaheer conceded that with a tough season coming up, he would have "an added responsibility"on his shoulders with a group of youngsters by his side.
"I understand that I'll have to put in more work in terms of training and performance when it comes to getting those crucial breakthroughs," said Zaheer on the official Board of Control for Cricket in India website. "Earlier, I had the luxury of having Kumble and Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) with me at the other end. Now it's time that I put my hand up and be prepared to put in that extra work."
Along with leading the bowling attack, Zaheer was also acknowledged by his teammates as the man responsible for guiding the young fast bowlers in the team. "Mentoring youngsters is a part of my responsibility and I've enjoyed it," said Zaheer. "It's good to see guys like Umesh (Yadav), Ashok (Dinda) and Varun (Aaron) bowling at 140-plus. That's what you need to do as a youngster. Later on, as you gain experience, you learn the tricks of the trade."
India are due to play ten Test matches at home from August 2012 to March 2013. Fitness permitting, Zaheer will be an integral part of the Test team, as well as the teams for the One-Day International matches in between. In addition, he is expected to lead the attack at the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September.
"It's important that I'm bowling fit and stay in touch with the game. As you train in the gym and for your fitness, it is equally important to train with your skills and keep bowling overs," said Zaheer. "For me, it's worked well when I'm bowling more and more overs. Hence, with ten Test matches coming at home, this (ODIs in Sri Lanka) series becomes all the more important."