Mumbai: When the national selectors meet in Bangalore to choose the squad for India's first Test against South Africa, they won't have the option of calling on Zaheer Khan. The left-arm pacer is yet to recover fully from an injury but told CNN-IBN's Roma Khanna in an exclusive interview that he is working extremely hard to get back.
Zaheer Khan: All I can say is that I'm getting there, I'm working hard, trying to come to 100 per cent fitness. The last 8-10 weeks have been tough, but I'm happy that I'm close to getting there. I cannot say that this is the date I will be 100 per cent, but I'm very close.
Roma Khanna: What about the South Africa series?
Zaheer Khan: I'm not sure when I will be fully fit. Being fully ready means being 120 per cent fit. I'll definitely play some club games or domestic One-day matches if I can get some. Meanwhile I will be bowling in the nets, doing my training, and working on getting my strength back.
Roma Khanna: How frustrating has this period of rehabilitation been? You have been recovering from injury, went to South Africa. What was your training around your rehabilitation like?
Zaheer Khan: It's been a constructive five weeks. Yes, at times it was frustrating because I was not able to bowl. But they said that even if you were bowling, you have to be patient enough to build it up slowly.
Just because you are bowling, you shouldn't go all out and make things worse for yourself. But it was even more frustrating, because even though I am bowling, I am not able to bowl my 100 per cent and going flat out.
Roma Khanna: Not too many happy memories of Australia for you. For the second time around you had to cut short your journey.
Zaheer Khan: Yes, the Australian tour has been jinxed for me, I must say that. Even during the last tour I went out the same way, got five wickets in the first Test and got injured in the second match. This time, I was wiser. I didn't play in Sydney. Even though I was tempted, I just decided that I have to see a foot specialist.
Roma Khanna: Tell us a bit about the IPL. You would be playing for the Bangalore team. It's a format you didn't play last time around. You weren't part of the T20 team for the World Cup also. Is it going to be interesting for you?
Zaheer Khan: I have played a bit of Twenty20 cricket in England. I had played the one-off game in South Africa when India toured there. So it's not really new for me. But the IPL is very exciting. Everyone is being talking about it, there is a lot of hype built around it. So it's going to be an exciting experience and everyone is looking forward to it.