Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent
Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 09:15 PM
The Delhi Daredevils squad is replete with pacers including Morris (l), Rabada, Cummins & Shami. © BCCI
Despite not having played competitive cricket for close to a year, since featuring in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan is confident that he can ease into his bowling role, albeit a supportive one.
Speaking to the media ahead of the 10th edition of the tournament, the 38-year-old left-arm seamer said he was up for the challenge. “It’s very difficult to not play any match and then to turn up here and play the whole season. I look at it as a challenge. I stick to my routines along with discussion I have had with my trainers and physios,” Zaheer said.
“The process remains the same. I picked up the ball around December, got into it slowly and here I am now, ready to take on another IPL season. Every time I get on the field, the excitement comes back. It’s the right dose of cricket for me at this stage of my career.”
The Delhi franchise has a host of options when it comes to the pace department, with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada part of the setup, along with allrounders like Chris Morris, Angelo Mathews and Carlos Brathwaite. Zaheer, who is pleased with his team’s quick-bowling arsenal, is happy to play second fiddle to them.
“I have supreme fast bowlers who will take the pressure off me. I’m not playing the lead role, but just the support role. I’m playing the role I enjoy the most. This is my way of giving back to the game,” he said.
A canny bowler during his India playing days, Zaheer is considered a master when it comes to bowling despite fitness limitations. The experienced pacer, who retired from international cricket in 2015, said that managing the workload was closely related to the bowling rhythm, and that the work hours don’t matter as long as the bowler in question understands those nuances.
“When I was playing, I preferred to play more and more. When you’re in rhythm, you can maintain that. You can maintain workloads at practice. Someone like Umesh, who has played all season, he isn’t going to realise when 20 overs are done. That’s the beauty of bowling fitness.
“With all the bowlers who’ve been playing Tests and some level of cricket, it will be easier in terms of bowling fitness. The more you bowl, the better you will get. I’ve always endorsed match practice is the best practice,” he said.
Delhi’s batting order though does not threaten to take the tournament by storm unlike their bowling, with key players like Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy missing from action due to varied reasons. Zaheer, however, is confident that the young Indian batsmen can deliver effectively.
“We’ve always believed in youngsters and the potential they have. If you look at last season’s squad, you’ve got someone like Karun Nair, who has a triple century at the Test level. Shreyas Iyer has made his mark, he’s part of the Test team. These youngsters are no longer youngsters, they’re seasoned campaigners now. That is the strength of DD this year.
“You’ve got an Indian batting line-up which is more experienced and know more about of their roles. The squad is settled. We’re sitting pretty despite JP and Quinton’s unavailability. If you look at all the squads, you will find players who are missing out because of international duties and injuries. We’re prepared for the uncertainties,” he added.