A glimpse of how left-armer Zaheer bowled on Day Two against Cricket Australia Chairman's XI on his return to the Indian squad
The day begins with one of the locals going, "For you guys, this day is all about how Zaheer Khan shapes up. There's nothing else to it." It is half past 12 in the afternoon, India have just been bowled out for 269, leaving their bowlers a maximum of 10 minutes at CA Chairman's XI openers before the lunch interval. To the surprise of all, Zaheer doesn't take the field; Abhimanyu Mithun and Umesh Yadav share the new ball.
Long road ahead: Zaheer Khan. Pic/AFP
It's post-lunch and Zaheer begins proceedings from the Cathedral End against Ed Cowan, his dream match-up with David Warner ruined after Mithun removed the New South Wales dasher before the interval. Zaheer runs in gingerly, begins with a no-ball, with only one of the six balls on target. His next over is a lot better, regaining a bit of the lost jump at time of delivery.
From an over-the-wicket line, he gets the ball to shape away from left-handed Cowan. Encouraging signs. By this time, a handful of Indian journalists at the ground abandon the square-on press-box view for a more pleasurable long-on experience. Over his next few overs, every time Zaheer dropped it short, he was dispatched for a boundary. In the penultimate over his first spell, he almost scalped Usman Khawaja with one that nipped back in sharply. But that was it. Zaheer was off the field immediately.
Post tea-beak, he returned to the field, onto bowl again. Now, for the ball of the day -- from over-the-wicket, he brings the ball back to right-handed Tom Cooper, nearly clips the top of middle stump. MS Dhoni and the slip cordon react, they know that ball will fetch them many wickets this summer. He bowled another three overs, but nothing to write home about. Overall, Zaheer would have hit the sack satisfied, knowing he bowled to some Test-quality batsmen. Though his figures of 10-0-41-0 doesn't tell the true story.
CA Chairman's XI centurion Ed Cowan felt that Zaheer wasn't at his best. "Obviously, he's coming back from injury, and is probably lacking that extra yard of pace. But, it's not a fast wicket so he's most likely bowling within himself," he told reporters after stumps were drawn.
Zaheer, accompanied by physiotherapist Evan Speechly, was spotted leaving the Manuka Oval immediately after the day's play. Perhaps, he wanted to get some treatment?