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A month in England will help Indian cricket team do better in Tests: Zaheer

Mumbai:Former pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who claimed 18 wickets in three Tests to fashion Indian cricket team’s historic series win in England in 2007, believes that starting this year’s England tour with T20s and ODIs would help Virat Kohli and Co. perform well in the ensuing Test series.

India will play three T20s and three ODIs starting July 3 before taking on the hosts in a five-Test series that starts at Edgbaston on August 1. Zaheer believes this period of almost a month will be enough for Kohli and his boys to acclimatise with the conditions, he said while unveiling the trophy of Pro Star League, an under-16 cricket tournament in Mumbai.

He also pointed out that the month of July and August are the best months to play cricket in England and it is something that should help India.

“In England, weather is not consistent. So, you have to be always in the right frame of mind and ensure you don’t get affected. July and August, I think, are the best months as it is going to be quite sunny and not overcast all the time,” said the former left-arm pacer whose match haul of 9/134 had delivered India a memorable seven-wicket win over England in Nottingham in 2007.

On the question of whether more Indian players should play county cricket to prepare for England series, Khan said it should be left to the discretion of players. “Most of them have played cricket in England and they are aware of the conditions. It’s up to them what they want to do.”

Zaheer, who in many ways heralded an age of pace bowling in Indian cricket, felt ecstatic to see a new crop of young pacers doing well. “IPL is a great platform to get noticed. It’s great to see a lot of young Indian pace bowlers performing well. We have already got some very good quick bowlers playing international cricket. And new faces doing well will add to our bench strength,” he said.

Regarded as one of the best exponents of swing bowling in his playing days, Zaheer also expressed happiness with the way young bowlers are executing the knuckle ball in IPL.

“As a bowler, you have to be at the top of the game and innovate. The advantage of knuckle ball is that batsmen find it very hard to pick. A lot of bowlers, therefore, had success with it. I also had some success with it despite the fact that I started bowling it only towards the end of my career.

“It is a great asset for pacers especially in T20s where batsmen are looking to play big shots. Because of speed variation, batsmen often end up skying the ball,” the 39-year-old said

Zaheer, who was considered a late bloomer as he started playing professional cricket only when he turned 18, said there is no best age to start cricket and if one has dedication, one can make it big.

“Once you are ready to sacrifice certain things and work hard to achieve a goal, you will do that. You, though, would need right kind of guidance and exposure at early age and then you can work towards your goal in a more efficient way. Just have passion and determination and nothing can stop you,” he concluded.