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‘We will do the needful’

Benoni: Comeback man Zaheer Khan, who is expected to spearhead the Indian pace attack in the two-Test series against South Africa, feels that one needs to make some adjustments on the “hit-the-deck” kind of surfaces in South Africa to succeed.

“For a seam bowler, it is important to get the ball in the right areas… The wickets here are hit-the-deck kinds… For bowlers from India, that adjustment has to be made,” Zaheer said.

Zaheer, a veteran of 88 Tests, has been a part of both the Indian teams that won a Test match each during their previous tours of 2006-07 and 2010-11 respectively.

“First of all, you have got to back yourself and play good cricket… For any team to do well anywhere, you need to keep coming back all the time and have the belief. So, I would say that was our success mantra during the earlier tours… On this tour too we will look to do the same,” Zaheer said.

He stressed that getting early breakthroughs will be the key. “It is very important for any fast-bowling unit to pick up early wickets. That is the responsibility of the opening bowlers.”

He is not too keen on on-field sledging to put pressure on the opposition. “Talks are talks… You can talk as much as you like outside. Once you go on to the field, it’s all about doing. We have got a good, talented bunch of boys. It is just about having the belief of taking 20 wickets. I think this Indian team will do the needful, whatever it’s going to take to win this series,” he said.

On India’s two-day practice match, which begins on Friday, Zaheer said: “The practice game would obviously be of good help to get used to the altitude and acclimatise to the conditions. Thereafter, I will be looking forward to the Test match.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is considered to be Zaheer’s bunny, having got him out six times in nine Tests. Asked about Smith, Zaheer said: “Graeme has a fantastic record and he leads the side very well. So when you have that kind of an edge against someone who has a terrific Test record, it is obviously an advantage”.

For Zaheer, personally, it’s like a new beginning. “I am very happy that finally I am making a comeback… This is definitely the beginning of a new journey for me which I am definitely going to enjoy,” Zaheer said.

Indian bowlers gave away a lot of runs in the one-dayers. The pacer, like many, thinks that the rule changes in ODIs is the reason behind that. “Rule changes in ODIs have impacted everyone, not just the Indian bowlers… Especially, the death bowling… Also, bowling with a white Kookaburra ball is different from bowling with a red one.

“But after whatever the players have seen and experienced, I am sure everyone is analysing themselves. Come the Test series, it will be a different ball game,” Zaheer hoped.

Speaking on his hard work during the time out from the Indian team, Zaheer said: “When I decided that I had to make a comeback, I needed to have a strategy how to go about it. The first phase was in France and the second phase was with Adrian le Roux at Bloemfontein. I spent about three weeks here practising with the local side as well which was also a good help.”

“Losing weight was one of the targets… What I really wanted to achieve was to recover in between spells and to come back and be on the ball from the first delivery. So in terms of those aspects, I have ticked all the boxes.”