Pace ace Zaheer Khan keen to work with current crop of Indian bowlers

Joy Chakravarty 16:09 31/05/2017
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Heading to the UAE: Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan, the wily former India pace bowler, admitted Tuesday that he will be keen on taking up the role of India’s bowling coach in the future.

Khan’s name that has constantly cropped up for the position in recent times, and while refusing to confirm if he has sought for the job, he told Sport360 it is a responsibility that he’d love to take on.

The 38-year-old Mumbai bowler, the fourth most successful in the history of Indian cricket with 311 scalps in 92 Test matches, has always been the leader of the Indian bowling pack during his career and excelled as a mentor to many of the present lot in the Indian team.

Khan, who is in Dubai as part of OSN’s specialist panel for studio shows during the ICC Champions Trophy staring Thursday, said: “Of course, it is a good responsibility to have.

“I haven’t really planned that far ahead. But in terms of keenness, yes, the keenness is there.

“It is something that I have done throughout my playing career also. If there is someone who wants my advice, I have always been there for them.”

The BCCI has called for candidates to apply for India’s head coach role, with Anil Kumble’s term coming to an end after the Champions Trophy.

Asked if he has actively sought for the position, Khan said: “I can’t answer that. Yes, it is a different role and a different opportunity, but at the moment, I am here for OSN as specialist commentator, and I am focused on that job.”

Defending champions India go into the ICC Champions Trophy as one of the pre-tournament favourites, and perhaps for the first time in their recent history, the bowling attack is giving more hope to their fans compared to their famed batting line-up.

In the two warm-up matches they played in England, India bowled out New Zealand for 189 in the 39th over, and later needed just 23.5 overs to dismiss Bangladesh for 84.

But Khan, while praising the bowlers, felt the performance of the batsmen will still be key.

“I won’t exactly say that bowlers will win us the title. Any tournament you play, it is a team effort,” said Khan.

“Yes, you have the variation in terms of style now – that is India’s big strength. You’ve got Bhuvneshwar who can swing the ball both ways. You have Umesh, who has got the pace. You have Bumrah, who takes the pressure off bowling in the death overs with his yorkers and slower ball. And there is Shami, who can do everything.

“With the new rules and fielding restrictions, it is important that you have bowlers who are good enough to bowl in any situation. That’s definitely one thing that foes in India’s favour right now.

“But in the end, you have got to approach it as a bowling unit that you have to pick up a few early wickets. Batting has always been our strength, and in these conditions, it becomes even more important that the batting line-up delivers.

“It is very important in today’s one-day cricket that you get to that total of 300. If you can do that consistently, then you get the advantage as a bowling unit also to defend those totals.”

Asked if he had one piece of advice for the Indian bowling and batting unit – given his immense success in England, Khan said: “To the bowlers, pitch the ball up, no matter what format you are playing in these conditions. As for the batsmen, I’d say take your time and get in.”

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