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IPL injury has practically ended Zaheer's career, says coach Sudhir Naik

Zaheer Khan's long time coach Sudhir Naik admits that it's extremely difficult for the left-armer to make a comeback into the national team post his IPL injury

Zaheer Khan’s exclusion from the England tour may well have ended his international career

Zaheer Khan’s exclusion has been one of the major points of Indian team’s selection for the tour of England. The 35-year-old might not find a place in the side again, feels his long time coach Sudhir Naik.

"I don't think the selectors will consider Zaheer again. It will be very, very difficult for Zaheer to make a comeback into the Indian team," Naik said in a conversation with the Mid-day.

India’s most experienced pacer currently, Zaheer, with 92 Test caps, has been very crucial to India’s success in the past. With as many as seven pace bowlers picked for the tour, Naik expressed very little hope to see his ward back in the whites again for the nation.

"The only possibility is if the younger lot of pace bowlers selected fail miserably. Then, the selectors might consider Zaheer again. Otherwise, there is no chance," added Naik.

Zaheer injured his back in this IPL, playing for Mumbai Indians and missed the entire Indian leg of the tournament. He went to London for treatment and is back in Mumbai, but selectors aren’t sure over his fitness.

Zaheer’s injury problems are not new. When the last time India toured England in 2011, the pacer broke down on the first day, and was ruled out of the rest of the series, a setback which snowballed into an embarassing tour for the visitors for the rest of their stay. It was a steep fall for Zaheer after that as he struggled with his fitness and form.

"Although he would be fit for the Test series, the selectors would not like to take a risk with Zaheer's fitness," he said. "Their major concern would have been whether he could last for the full series. So, that is why they did not select him."

Zaheer underwent rigourous training in France alongside Yuvraj Singh last year and returned looking in much better shape. He bowled long spells in South Africa and New Zealand, and seemed to have quelled any doubts over his fitness. But the back injury in IPL has brought back those memories of the 2011 tour. Selectors haven’t made revealed their reason behind not picking Zaheer – whether it’s injury, or form which has resulted in this exclusion – but it’s clear that they don’t have the trust in him lasting a long tour.

"His dream was to complete 100 Tests and then retire. But I guess now that will not happen. I was confident that he could achieve his goal when he returned to full fitness after a nearly one-year injury lay-off. But unfortunately, this injury has practically ended his international career. There are only 25% chances of him making a comeback now," concluded a disappointed Naik.

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