Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar has praised seamer Zaheer Khan's inclusion in the Indian team for South Africa. Gavaskar believes his experience can help Indian bowlers excel on bouncy tracks there.
Zaheer Khan, who last played for India in December 2012, was included in the 17-member Indian squad announced on Tuesday. The veteran bowler who has 295 wickets from his 88 Tests has been in good form in domestic cricket (13 wickets at an average of 19.84). Gavaskar, however told NDTV that it is Zaheer's knowledge of having played in South Africa which will help the team. "More than anything else, I think Zaheer will be very handy for some of the younger players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami who are making their first trip to South Africa with the national team," he said on Wednesday. "They need someone who has been there, who has performed there and knows what the conditions are."
While both Bhuvneshwar and Shami have performed well in India since their debuts earlier this year, Zaheer's skills will be crucial in the upcoming tour starting December 5. He, after all, has claimed 23 wickets from 12 innings there. "Zaheer knows how to bowl to certain batsmen and the kind of field placing needed. Once he gets his rhythm, he will also get you wickets," said Gavaskar.
India play three ODIs and two Tests starting December 5 and Zaheer said on Tuesday that he was glad to have been given a chance once again. "I was expecting a comeback. When I asked myself whether I could make a comeback, the answer was yes. Hence prepared a strategy and worked accordingly," he had told reporters.
Ever since playing his last Test match in December 2012 against England in Kolkata, 35-year-old Zaheer battled fitness and weight problems. However he remained determined to regain prime form and even went to France with Yuvraj Singh to train under expert British trainer, Tim Exeter.
And on Tuesday, Exeter was a happy man. "I am really pleased for both of them. They worked hard and have realised their goals, now they need to kick on from here and remind everyone what they can do. Not just India, but their opponents too. I just love to see people I have worked with be successful, whatever level they are at," he told sports.ndtv.com.