East London:Arguably one of the best exponents of left-arm swing bowling in contemporary cricket, Zaheer Khan says he has put in a lot of hard work and thinking in his bowling.
"I think I have started putting in a lot of thought into my bowling. All that I am focused is on bowling according to the team's plan," he told IPL's official website.
"... these days, when I am bowling I feel as if I am meditating," said Zaheer who is spearheading Mumbai Indians bowling in the Indian Premier League second season.
His incredible form in the last two years has played a big role in India's success, but a modest Zaheer said his achievements have not reached the levels where it could be compared to Pakistan legend Wasim Akram.
"I am not looking at it that way. When I play a match, I want to be fit. So far it has been very good and I am very happy with my progress. But I still feel that I am ways off from being compared to Wasim Akram."
Talking about his bowling the 30-year-old Zaheer said, "It was Dennis Lillee who inspired me the most. I was fortunate to work under him at the MRF Pace Academy. It's been fun watching all the other bowlers like Akram, Richard Hadlee and Glenn McGrath. And I have been a big fan of Allan Donald also."
Zaheer, now the senior pro and bowling spearhead in the Indian team, is happy that youngsters are shaping up well.
"It's wonderful to see Ishant Sharma, RP Singh and Munaf Patel grow as fast bowlers. We definitely have a very strong back-up of pacers in India. It is good to see people raising their hands, taking responsibility and performing."
Zaheer said he should count himself lucky for escaping getting spanked by the in-form duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya as all play for the same team.
"I should thank my stars. Both are legends and together they are a deadly combination. Our openers must be giving nightmares to a number of teams in the tournament," he said.
Zaheer said the Mumbai Indians bowlers are gelling well. "We have a very good bowling attack. Lasith Malinga has been doing well and I am sure he will be very effective in the upcoming matches too. (Dwayne) Bravo has been bowling superbly. It's fun gelling with the team."
Asked how much difference Shaun Pollock's presence has made to Mumbai Indians, Zaheer said, "It has been of big help.
There is a lot of discussion going on between him and the players which revolves around fast bowling. Whenever I get an opportunity, I make sure I speak to Shaun.
"It's been good to see him working with the young bowlers, giving them their space and at the same time making them understand how to put in their best."