NEW DELHI: India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan says his rehabilitation from the ankle surgery is slow but positive and he hopes to return soon to bowl at the international level.

Zaheer picked up the injury during the recent England tour, which ruled him out of the entire series. The left-arm pacer had bowled only 13.3 over in the first Test at Lord's last month because of a strained hamstring before injuring his ankle.

"I have to build strength in my ankle. Then I have to start bowling slowly in some club games or first class cricket. I am going by what my body is telling me. The rehab is slow but positive," Zaheer told reporters after receiving the Arjuna Award from Sports Minister Ajay Maken here Monday.

Zaheer admits it is "frustrating" to be out of action but hopes to go to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore soon to assess his fitness.

"I hope I will be back fairly soon, but I am not setting any timeframe. It is frustrating not to play at the highest level. But I have to take things in my stride and do things that are in my control and have patience," said Zaheer, who turns 33 October 7.

The Indian attack looked blunt in the absence of Zaheer with critics slamming the team's over-dependence on him. He, however, does not mind the pressure.

"It is a motivation to do well. It is good to go to sleep with this kind of pressure," he said.

"When you play international matches, you do not see domestic cricket. But there is enough talent in the country and it is not a reason to worry about."

Speaking about veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has been left out of the squad for the England tour, Zaheer said he is too good a bowler to be left out and will be back in the team soon.

"Harbhajan has done great things for the country. I am sure he will be back. He is too good a bowler to be left out," he said.

Zaheer rated his Arjuna Award as a "great achievement".

"It is a great achievement to come from a place like Shrirampur and reach here," the bowler from Maharashtra said.

Keywords: Zaheer, ankle surgery, Zaheer frustrating, Harbhajan Singh, National Cricket Academy, NCA,