New Delhi: Team India spearhead Zaheer Khan said the side had a difficult time under former coach Greg Chappell and he had no idea why he was dropped after the 2005 series against Pakistan.
Zaheer said he didn’t have much idea about what transpired in the dressing room when Chappell held the coach reins but things were not easy then.
“Most of the times, I was not part of the team and whatever chances I had, I tried to give my best. It was, in a way, a difficult time,” Zaheer told a news channel.
“I didn’t know why I was out of the team. In 2004, it was mostly due to injuries and in 2005, it was the time when the Greg Chappell time started,” Zaheer said.
Incidentally, teammates Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh had more or less the same thing to say about Chappell who had a tumultuous two-year stint with Team India.
Chappell had a well-documented spat with former captain Sourav Ganguly but he reportedly had problems with other senior players as well and Zaheer too was not up in the Australian’s pecking order.
Recalling his time in the wilderness, Zaheer said, “I could never find out the answers (for my exclusion). I didn’t know what was wrong. So when the county offer came, I thought I should be playing this. Cricket was my love and passion and I decided to carry on playing. I knew I’ll be happy just playing the game.”
“There (Worcestershire) I was just enjoying my cricket and didn’t think about those external factors,” Zaheer said.
“I was the highest wicket-taker when I was dropped against Pakistan. I had played just two matches. The reason given was I had put on weight, which was okay. But my argument was I cannot lose weight overnight, it’s not like a T-shirt, you have to give me some time,” he said.
The India spearhead heaped praise on skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten, while acknowledging the role played by Ganguly and former coach John Wright.
“I think Dada started the whole thing and I debuted under him. He was great and backed the players. He did just what Dhoni is doing now. I think Dhoni has in fact taken it to the next level.
“Dada had John Wright then and now MS (Dhoni) and Gary are taking the team to the next level,” he said.
Zaheer lavished praise on his new ball colleague Ishant Sharma and said, “He is doing very well. He is on the right path. He has got everything a bowler needs, he is tall, has got pace, hits the deck hard and has a good work ethics.
“At times, I tell him to stop bowling in practice and spare something for the match,” he said.