Lahli: As Sachin Tendulkar signed off his Ranji Trophy career on a winning note, Mumbai captain Zaheer Khan today said the veteran batsman`s five-hour vigil in the second innings against Haryana has given him the much-needed practice ahead of his farewell Test series against the West Indies next month.
The retiring legend almost singlehandedly guided Mumbai to a four-wicket victory, scoring an unbeaten 79, in one of the most keenly followed matches in the history of Ranji Trophy, here today.
"It`s important for Sachin and considering the two Tests against the West Indies next month, this has given him much-needed practice. And remember, Haryana has got a good attack and they bowled a disciplined attack," Zaheer told reporters after the match.
Tendulkar, 40, will be walking into international sunset after the rubber against the Caribbean side, and Zaheer has been associated with the veteran for almost a decade and a half.
"It`s very difficult to sum up my association with Sachin in one minute. It`s been very special, his records speak volumes of the man. He has truly been a master.
"We just want him to enjoy the last two Tests, the way he has always enjoyed...Make the most of it."
The left-arm pacer is on a comeback trail and seemed hopeful of returning to the Indian team.
"I am trying to do whatever is in my hand. I have got good match practice by playing the two India A matches.
"I am getting better...Bowling fitness is something I am working on. I am feeling confident, it`s just about spending more and more time on the field. Match practice is the best practice as it helps the overall game," he said.
Zaheer was pleased with the pitch at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium here.
"Good wickets do produce good results. The match lasted till the end, it`s a great wicket and they are encouraging signs," he said.
Both Zaheer and Haryana captain Ajay Jadeja, making a comeback to competitive cricket after more than seven years, felt first-class matches should be organised at smaller venues regularly.
"I think we need to take domestic matches to smaller venues. Here we do get people and are blessed to see Sachin play. Matches like these will encourage people."
Zaheer said it was important for the Mumbai side to start the season on a winning note.
Asked about Jadeja`s captaincy, Zaheer said, "He has led well, made good bowling changes, always kept the pressure. Haryana has got a young side and to have someone with so much experience definitely helps the side."