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Zaheer Khan 'unlikely' to play against RCB, says MI coach John Wright

Zaheer Khan's injury is still being monitored and he is 'unlikely' to play against RCB on Tuesday in IPL

Zaheer Injury

Zaheer Khan was injured while bowling his last over against Kings XI Punjab and may face some time off the field

Mumbai Indians’ pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is unlikely to play against his ex-franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore today, coach John Wright told reporters at the pre-match conference in Mumbai.

“Zaheer has strained his left latissmus dorsi muscle. He is undergoing thorough medical assessment and we are awaiting the reports. It is a bit of a blow for us. But we hope, it is not too serious, not only for IPL but his other international commitments. He is unlikely to play tomorrow. It pretty much looks like it (that he won’t play),” Wright said.

Zaheer injured his bowling arm while delivering the 3rd ball of his last over against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday at Wankhede. He left the field holding his left shoulder, while Pollard completed his over. MI won that match by 5 wickets, ending a 5-match losing streak in IPL 7.

Zaheer has taken 5 wickets in 6 matches for MI this season, giving away runs at just 6.53 runs per over. When asked a time-period for Zak‘s recovery and return, Wright said, “that is yet to be determined”.

Zaheer made a return the national side in December last year for the tour of South Africa after undergoing a rigorous rehabilitation in France along with Yuvraj Singh and bowled long spells in SA as well as New Zealand tour following that. Selectors and fans would be closely following Zaheer’s recovery, keeping in mind the England tour which starts June end.

Zaheer suffered an ankle injury on the first day of India’s last tour to England in 2011, and missed the remainder of the tour, dealing the visitors a huge blow. His fitness this time will be the biggest yardstick for his selection in the Test squad.

MI will face RCB today at their home ground, Wankhede where they finally ended their losing streak this season, defeating Kings XI Punjab who were on a 5-match winning streak.

“It was a much needed (victory). We struggled but it was great to get back here. I think everyone enjoyed getting back here and we haven’t lost a match here for a long time so we want to continue that here tomorrow,” the ex-Indian coach said on the morale lifting win.

However, though he maintained the team had yet to improve in many areas, the spirits were high in the dressing room. “We have still got a lot of work to do, we realise that but there is nothing like winning for the confidence of the boys. We are a very happy changing room and people are more relaxed and more players are looking in form and coming into form so that is good for us.”

“We have a different team from last year and that is part of IPL and the learning experience, whereby you have different combinations. We didn’t start too well and  sometimes that creates pressure, particularly  on new players.

“We know that we have got a team. One of the good things about the victory the other day is that we actually beat the team that beat everybody. IPL is like that. From our point of view, that was a big challenge.

“We knew these guys had come here and hadn’t lost a match and we were back at home and from our point of view, that was great. Because we know if we play reasonable cricket, we have got a team that can beat anyone on the day. And you can’t look backwards, you have to look forward,” he added.

In absence of Zaheer, Lasith Malinga will have to shoulder the responsibility of leading the attack and Wright was positive about the World T20 winning captain’s abilities.

“I think he is at a stage of his career where he enjoys pressure and any top world class performer probably flips the coin with pressure and probably sees it more as an opportunity than something as a threatening situation to be in it.

“He is at a stage of his career where he knows exactly how to prepare. For each game, he has got a pretty good idea where to bowl for each batsman and has a full repertoire. He has been magnificent for us for a long time.”

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