Posted On Monday, November 05, 2012 at 07:35:17 AM
Mumbai’s Zaheer Khan walks off the field after suffering from cramps during the third day of their Ranji match against Railways at the Wankhede Stadium
It’s a sight that made you wince and brought back bad memories. As Zaheer Khan limped off the field at Wankhede Stadium during Mumbai’s game against Railways yesterday, the mind raced to Lord’s last year when he bowed out of the England tour on the first day.
You wondered about his brittle body, you feared about the possible repercussions for India in the upcoming series against England and you brooded about the not-so far future.
Luckily, Ajit Agarkar, Mumbai’s captain, later said that Zaheer was only suffering from cramps and returned after bowling just five deliveries in his fifth spell only as a precautionary measure.
But since this is Zaheer, and since this is Indian cricket, never known for their clarity on injuries, the bad feeling refuses to go away. Will we hear the worst in a few days? Even if it’s just and he is fit for England series, one can’t shake off the feeling that Zaheer is on his last leg.
Will he be still around in December of 2013 when India go abroad for tougher assignments? Zaheer’s “cramps” meant that the fact that Railways put up a gutsy display to reach 380 for 8 at close was lost upon everyone.
It was actually one of those days that have given Ranji Trophy a bad name over the past few decades. A placid life-less track which immediately makes the teams put all focus on getting the first-innings lead.
At the start of the day, everything looked good with Railways wobbling at 86 for 2 in response to Mumbai’s mammoth 570. Given the fact that Railways doesn’t boast a formidable middle order, Mumbai would have hoped that they can run through them. Here is where the trouble started.
The Mumbai attack comprising Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Romesh Pawar and Iqbal Abdulla tried everything but managed to extract only modest returns. The way the script was unfolding till late in the afternoon after tea, it was getting clear that Mumbai, at best, would have to satisfy themselves with a first-innings lead.
It was that injury to Zaheer in the final session, which jolted everyone out of their slumber. “Zaheer was suffering from cramps. But he should be back on the field tomorrow morning,” said Agarkar. Zaheer’s career has been hampered by a series of injuries and it may be recalled that the damage was so severe in England last year that it took him nearly four months to recover.
He was part of the Indian team that beat New Zealand in the two-Test series recently but managed to take only three wickets. Just before that injury yesterday, Zaheer had managed to claim his first wicket of the game in his 19th over when he had Mahesh Rawat edging the ball to the wicket-keeper Aditya Tare.
He managed to bowl only a few balls after that, pointed towards his groin after completing the fifth delivery of his 21st over as he walked out. Zaheer’s only success had materialized after a long struggle on a pitch that had little to offer to the bowlers. He ran in smoothly and found the right length but the Railway batsmen were largely resolute in tackling him, as they were with the other bowlers.
Agarkar who himself complained of a minor problem with his calf was the most successful of the lot, taking 3 for 43. Agarkar, no stranger to injuries himself, said that players do face cramps after a long day on the field so there should not be much to worry about.
“He is keen to play for India against England and he had a decent workout in the overs that he bowled. These things can happen to a bowler.” They just seem to happen more to Zaheer. India will hope that this is really just cramps.
► Zak is okay. He is just cramping a bit. He has had a long day and it was very humid here
- Mumbai skipper Ajit Agarkar on Zaheer Khan's injury
Brief Scores: Mumbai: 570 vs Railways 380/8 in 118.0 overs ( N Bhille 73, Mahesh Rawat 68, Sanjay Bangar 67; Agarkar 3 for 43)