Zaheer Khan seems to be in the zone again. He has lost weight, looks determined, and after a quick breakfast on Wednesday he arrived at the Sahara Room of the team hotel basement for an open session.

The enormous media contingent of both India and South Africa lapped up the chance to quiz the veteran seamer. After being out of the limelight for a fair amount of time, Zak looked to be enjoying the attention.

When asked if the team was giving him enough respect as the senior-most player after Sachin Tendulkar's retirement, he laughed and answered: "I hadn't thought about it. But now that you have said it, I will keep it in mind."

Zaheer was a crucial factor for India in the last series between the two teams. After missing the first Test in Centurion which India lost, he played a crucial role in Durban as India won an important away Test.

He took 10 wickets in two Tests as India squared the three-match series 1-1. The left-armer seemed to have Graeme Smith's number too, dismissing him on quite a few occasions.

He was reminded about it by a South African scribe and the Mumbai pacer didn't let go of the chance to play a few mind games. "I probably just need to turn up to get his wicket," he shot back.

To ensure that he doesn't sound too boastful, he quickly added: "Graeme is a wonderful player and has led his country with distinction for a long time. I am sure it will be an intriguing contest between us."

Unless there's an injury over the course of the next week, the Indian pace attack has a settled look to it. While Zaheer will lead the pack, Ishant Sharma and Shami Ahmed are the likely support candidates.

When asked to assess the preparation of his colleagues for the Test series that begins at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on December 18, Zaheer said he isn't "good at it".

"We have a talented bunch. It's about the belief that we have in ourselves and it's crucial that we have a few good days together," he said.

It's time now for him to walk the talk.

Zaheer Khan More Stills

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