Zaheer swapped for Uthappa

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Mumbai
  • Published 22.01.09
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Mumbai: India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan will play for Mumbai Indians in the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after the city franchise swapped him for Robin Uthappa. The pacer had played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first edition of the tournament.

Uthappa, who hails from Bangalore, was part of Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians and Zaheer had played for the Vijay Mallya-owned franchise last year.

“We have done two swaps — one Uthappa for Zaheer and the other is Ashish Nehra. Nehra, who played for us last season, will move to Delhi DareDevils in exchange for Shikhar Dhawan. There is no cash involved since it is a straight, clear swap,” a source in the Mumbai Indians told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

The official trading window of the IPL closes on Thursday and the list of transfers are expected to be released a day later.

Left-arm pacer Zaheer was in terrific form for the Mumbai state side in the Ranji Trophy. He picked up seven for 54 in the final and broke the back of Uttar Pradesh in the first innings.

His arrival will surely strengthen the IPL side’s bowling, as they would be without Shaun Pollock in the upcoming season. South African great Pollock played a key role for the side last year but has announced that he would not return for the 2009 edition.

Meanwhile, Zaheer said that he preferred playing matches to practice sessions.

“For me, what is more important is match fitness. I prefer playing matches to practice sessions. I have done a lot of bowling recently, the rhythm is good,” Zaheer told reporters at a promotional event.

The juggling of itineraries in the wake of the November 26 terror strikes would not affect his performance in the forthcoming tours of Sri Lanka and New Zealand, Zaheer said.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has hastily arranged a short visit to Sri Lanka (for five ODI and a T20) to fill the gap in calendar that emerged following the cancellation of the tour of Pakistan.A Test match has also been added to the NZ tour.

The 15-man Indian squad would depart for Sri Lanka on January 26.

Zaheer, unlike some of his teammates, was part of the Mumbai squad (for the semi-final and final) which won the Ranji Trophy for the 38th time last week.

The left-arm pacer said it would be too early to think about the challenges of visiting New Zealand — for two T20s, five ODIs and three Tests between February 25 and April 7.

“Our focus is on the Sri Lanka tour at the moment but I think wherever you go, the pitches are all 22 yards long,” Zaheer said.

“It’s about personal preparation. The weather conditions there will be different but we have played a lot of cricket in a variety of conditions.”