- Nick name
- Zaheer Khan
- Batting style
- Right Hand Bat
- Bowling style
- Left-arm medium fast
- Current Team
- Indian Premier League 2016
- October 7, 1978
The backbone of India’s pace attack for over a decade, Zaheer Khan is one of the best left-arm seamers produced by this country. The 37-year-old, who started out as a tear-away fast bowler, reinvented himself after several bouts with injuries. The finest moment of the pacer’s limited overs international career was when he won India the 2011 World Cup as the team’s highest wicket-taker. However, on October 15, 2015, the left-arm pacer bid adieu to international cricket. From running in fast and hitting the deck hard with a leap at the crease, to becoming a wily fast-bowler who deceived the batsmen with his guile and variations, Zaheer Khan had evolved into a master craftsman by the time he announced his retirement. He excelled not only in the art of swing bowling but also reveled in utilising reverse swing to trap the batsman. In the past, Zaheer has represented Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, and was most recently signed up by the Delhi Daredevils, the team he will captain in IPL 2016.
Zaheer Khan is an Indian fast bowler with all the traits that made the Pakistani fast bowlers a phenomenon. He swings the new ball and reverses the old, he does well on flat subcontinent pitches and relishes the helpful ones away, and he controls all three balls well – SG, Duke and Kookaburra. He might not quite have the skills of Wasim Akram, who he has often been compared to, but mentally Zaheer has become as good as Akram. He knows how to get wickets, he has an intuitive sense of when to go for the kill, and once a batsman has shown him the slightest hint of a weakness, Zaheer preys on it ruthlessly. Unlike the Pakistan fast bowlers of the 2000s, though, he stays away from controversy and is pretty low-key off the field.
Zaheer’s career can be easily divided into three distinct sections, neatly segregated by injuries. He was all promise ever since he bowled Steve Waugh with a full delivery in the Champions Trophy in 2000. A mysterious injury in Australia in 2003-04 – hamstring at first and later discovered to be a nerve twitch – then tortured him for the best part of the next two years. Every comeback ended in a frustrating setback through a new injury.
In 2006, though, Zaheer, now with a shorter run up, a fitter body and a meaner mind, dazzled England with 78 wickets for Worcestershire, where team-mates started calling him ‘Zippy Zakky’. He was the perfect foil for Sreesanth in South Africa, and he then regained his status as leader of the pack with a match-winning display at Trent Bridge, as India won only their fifth Test on English soil. The new, lethal Zaheer was not only the leader of the Indian attack, he was one of the best in the world. With his guidance, India claimed the No. 1 ranking in Tests and the World Cup in 2011, which he called “my greatest cricketing moment.”
Zaheer was seen as a vital resource ahead of a lengthy Test season comprising a four-Test tour of England and then a four-Test tour of Australia in 2011-12. But a hamstring injury on the very first day led to India losing one of their premier match-winners, and also every one of those matches. It wasn’t until Zaheer’s return for the Johannesburg Test against South Africa that India could stem their run of Test losses overseas. At 35 years, he still had all the tricks but his pace was down and he looked rather spent even while playing the second of back-to-back Tests in Durban.
There was no doubting how much Zaheer prized Test cricket though. He took a five-for in what became his final Test – the same one in which Brendon McCullum hit a triple ton – and ended his career with 311 Test wickets, second only to Kapil Dev among Indian fast bowlers.
Zaheer continues to do his bit in the IPL though. He was bought by Delhi Daredevils for INR 4 crores in 2015 and he was named their captain in 2016.
Indian Premier League 2016