Zaheer Khan is one of the most successful pace bowlers to have represented India. With 311 Test and 282 ODI wickets, he is among India’s leading wicket takers in both formats. Zaheer played international cricket for India from 2000 to 2014 during which his performances were instrumental in many famous victories. Be it the historic Test series win in Australia in 2008 or the 2011 World Cup trophy, Zaheer played a pivotal role. He overcame multiple injuries during his career to make winning comebacks time and again, a testament to his determination and gave motivation to youths for icc world cup new matches. This article looks back at Zaheer Khan’s illustrious cricketing career, his journey of ups and downs and how he became a spearhead of India’s bowling attack. From his debut to retirement, relive some of Zaheer’s greatest cricketing moments.
One of a best fast bowlers to ever play cricket for India is Zaheer Khan. Born in Shrirampur, Maharashtra, on October 7, 1978, Zaheer began playing cricket at an early age. At a Shrirampur Cricket Club, he developed his abilities under the direction of his coach Sudhir Naik.
Zaheer made his domestic debut in the 1997-98 season while playing for Baroda. He had an excellent first class record, picking up 240 wickets at an average of 27.95. His talent was evident from his debut match itself when he took 5 wickets for 102 runs against Saurashtra.
Zaheer had his Test debut versus Bangladesh in a year 2000. In the first Test match at Dhaka, he took 3 wickets in the match. He played one more Test against Bangladesh later that year.
Zaheer made his ODI debut in October 2000 against Kenya in the ICC KnockOut Trophy. His breakthrough performance came in the same series when he took 3 wickets against Australia, dismissing star batsmen like Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist.
Struggling with Injuries
Injuries derailed Zaheer’s career in its early stages from 2001 to 2003. He had back and ankle problems, which caused him to miss a lot of games. This impacted his consistency and he struggled to cement his place in the Indian team.
However, Zaheer continued working hard on fitness and strengthening his body. He also worked closely with bowling coach TA Sekhar to improve his bowling skills. This dedication and hard work enabled his comeback.
Zaheer made a strong comeback to the Indian team in 2004 during the Test and ODI tour of Bangladesh. He emerged as a leading wicket-taker in both a Test along with ODI series, playing the crucial role in India’s triumph by securing the total of 18 wickets across 3 Tests as well as 10 wickets in 5 ODIs.
Following his acquisition as the foreign player by Worcestershire County Cricket Club in a year 2006, his career experienced the positive transformation. Playing county cricket helped improve Zaheer’s bowling substantially. He increased his pace as well as developed a capability to swing a ball both ways. This became the potent weapon that troubled the best batsmen in the world.
2007 T20 and ODI World Cups
Zaheer had a hugely successful 2007 World Cup campaign held in the West Indies. He was the joint second highest wicket taker in the tournament with 18 wickets from 10 matches. His spell of 3/18 against Bermuda was instrumental in India topping their group. Zaheer grabbed a wicket in his very 1st over in the championship match against Pakistan.
Zaheer participated as a member of the Indian team that emerged victorious in the first-ever T20 World Cup, hosted in South Africa that same year. Having secured six wickets across six matches, he attained the highest wicket count for India in the tournament. This included excellent figures of 2/26 in the finals against Pakistan.
Success under Dhoni’s Captaincy
After M.S Dhoni took over as captain, Zaheer became an integral part of the Indian team. His tremendous consistency helped India achieve success both home and away.
Zaheer was the leading wicket taker when India toured Australia in 2007-08 and won the Border Gavaskar trophy after 35 years. He picked up 15 wickets from 4 Tests at an average of 37.2. In the historic victory at Perth, his 5 wicket haul in the first innings demolished Australia for 212 runs.
Under Dhoni’s captaincy from 2008 to 2011, Zaheer was part of number 1 ranked Test team. He became only the 2nd Indian fast bowler after Kapil Dev to take more than 300 Test wickets. His ability to form devastating partnerships with Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma made the Indian pace attack potent.
2011 World Cup Glory
The pinnacle of Zaheer’s career came when India won the 2011 ICC World Cup at home. Zaheer finished as the joint highest wicket taker along with Shahid Afridi – with 21 wickets from just 9 matches! His 4 for 41 against Australia in the quarter-final was a match winning spell.
In the final, his economical spell of 2/29 from 8.2 overs kept Sri Lanka down to 274/6. He also took the all important wicket of Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara. This was instrumental in India eventually lifting the trophy after 28 years.
Decline and Retirement
After the 2011 World Cup, Zaheer’s form declined rapidly due to recurrent injuries taking a toll on his body. He struggled with fitness issues and lack of match practice. This resulted in his pace and effectiveness reducing substantially.
Zaheer was dropped from the Test team in 2012. He continued playing ODIs and T20Is for India till 2014. However, he was a pale shadow of his past self. In his last series against New Zealand in 2014, he took just 1 wicket in 5 ODIs confirming his decline.
Zaheer Khan announced his retirement from international and first class cricket in October 2015. He finished with 311 Test, 282 ODI and 17 T20I wickets. Zaheer will go down as one of the greatest fast bowlers and an all time match winner for India.
Zaheer Khan will be remembered as one of India’s greatest pace bowlers. His ability to swing the ball both ways and bowl with accuracy made him a formidable bowler as per icc world cup auction live news. Zaheer’s career went through many ups and downs with recurring injuries impacting his consistency. However, his strong work ethic and determination helped him make several comebacks. His tremendous performances were instrumental in India’s victories, be it the famous overseas win in Australia in 2008 or the 2011 World Cup glory at home.