Somerset: The series is still some days away but the banter has started with India pace spearhead Zaheer Khan taunting Andrew Strauss, saying the English skipper`s decision to play for Somerset in a practice match highlights the "element of doubt" in his mind.
"The fact that Andrew Strauss is here playing in this practice game says it all. There is definitely that element of doubt in his mind and he has given me that edge now going into the series," Zaheer was quoted as saying by a daily.
"A guy who wants to come and face a particular bowler who he knows is troubling him is in itself a sign. I feel that as a captain it is not a positive move for someone who is going to lead England.”
"He has shown the opponent exactly what it is he is thinking. It has been a good contest between us and as a bowler I`ve always felt that if I can provide that early breakthrough it definitely puts the team in the driving seat so that is my aim on this tour as well," he added.
Strauss made 78 on the opening day of the three-day match between the touring Indians and Somerset on Friday.
Talking about the series, Zaheer rejected talk that his world number one side is under pressure to prove itself.
"There is no burden on our team to prove anything. If we play good cricket we will win matches and then everything else will take care of itself," he reasoned.
"I`ve got confidence from the previous tours I`ve had here as well as the county season I played, which makes me familiar with conditions," Zaheer added.
The Indian pace spearhead said he enjoys bowling in English conditions and expects to do well in the Test series starting July 21 at the Lord`s.
"I`ve always enjoyed playing here; the conditions are good for my kind of bowling. Whenever the weather is good it definitely provides that little bit extra for the seamers, which I really enjoy.”
"This year I`m also looking to do the same thing as in 2007, I will use this practice game to get my body going and get into the zone, then carry on from there," he said.
On whether the series would also be about verbal volleys, Zaheer said, "In the last series you could see how hurt they were when the whole jellybean thing happened because they lost the series."
"It is up to them how far they want to push it and whether they want to cross the line or not. I am very clear, I want to play the game in the right spirit and I don`t think by doing that they had shown the right spirit of the game," he added.
"I want to fight hard on the field and that is the way I will be playing it in this series as well. As a bowler I`m very confident and the way things are panning out, it will be a big series and we`re looking forward to the contest."