Zaheer Khan

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Zaheer Khan reaches 300-wicket mark in Test cricket

TNN | Dec 22, 2013

The Times of India

Contents

Early life

Zaheer Khan was born on October 7, 1978,

300 wickets, and counting

On Dec 22, 2013 Zaheer Khan became the fourth Indian to achieve the 300-wicket mark in Test cricket when he dismissed Jacques Kallis on the fifth day of the first Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.

But Zaheer was lucky to get the wicket of Kallis as the batsman was ruled out leg before wicket even through there was an inside edge on to his pads.

Zaheer joins Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the elite list.

A fit again Zaheer came up with a superb bowling effort to grab 4/88 in the first innings.

Zaheer has gone through a lot of late. Injuries, lack of form and fitness issues had seen him out of the Indian team for quite a while. It was a difficult road back for him to come back.

Speed and technique

Zaheer, when he started off in the Champions Trophy in Kenya in 1999, used to work up a pace of 140 plus. Over the years his pace came down but he added some more skill in his repertoire like the knuckle ball and the art of reverse swinging the old ball.

Zaheer, alongwith Yuvraj Singh, trained hard for 42 days at a stretch at Metasport Athletic Performance Centre in France where they learned new things in terms of exercise, food and diet.

Known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, Zaheer is regarded as the best fast bowler to have emerged from India after Kapil Dev and considered among the best left-hand fast bowlers in the world along with Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas.

Triumphs

Zaheer was the highest wicket-taker for India in the 2011 World Cup, reinventing himself from several injuries to become the backbone of Indian pace attack.

Zaheer had rocked international cricket when he clean bowled Steve Waugh in the Champions Trophy in 2000 and it was largely due to Zaheer's exploits with the ball that India won a Test series in England under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid in 2007.

He worked with a world-renowned trainer for six weeks in France to get back in shape and then went to South Africa to work with a specialist on his fielding and bowling.

It's remarkable to note what Zaheer Khan has achieved despite having a career that has been hit by several injuries.

A “finished” bowler

India Today

Sharda Ugra February 26, 2009

Zaheer has re-written the narrative of his own unpredictable story, re-defined the course of his career and has emerged, finally, as the bowler India have waited for him to be. He has gone from edgy, brittle paceman to the leader of India’s attack, the man who has delivered some of its most emphatic victories in the last two seasons. From an uncertain performer always on the fringe of hitting his stride to a mature bowler the Indians now rely on. He forms one half of what some call the best new ball-pair in the world, whose presence gives the Indian bowling attack its heft and will make all opposition think twice about loading their decks in bowlers’ favour.

It is the fast bowler’s friend and enemy, capable of repeatedly torquing itself into biomechanical punishment and equally capable of succumbing to stress and collapse. Until recently, such physical unpredictability was Zaheer’s calling card, from his high-decibel debut in 2000 all the way to England 2007. When after an indifferent first day in Lord’s, he took 18 wickets and set up India’s historic series win. Before that he had limped out of landmark series in Pakistan and Australia (twice). He says, “I would do everything right, do the fitness, the rehab. I would return, nets would be fine but then some other part would break down in a match.”

In Pakistan 2006, former coach Greg Chappell had privately declared Zaheer ‘finished’, words that reached him.

The county game, says VVS Laxman, “transformed” Zaheer. “He had always looked to bowl quick and take wickets. But county cricket taught him to bowl within himself, when to attack and when to contain.” It is an art that the fast bowler understands as he gets older. When he finds that groove, he goes from struggling apprentice to master, a stage many believe Zaheer is entering now. His best is yet to be. Caught up in the tides of his career, there is a lot that we forget about him. That Zaheer is from Shrirampur, a town not easily found on maps. That he bowled with a leather ball only at the age of 17, encountered weight training only at 20. That he is smart enough to get into an instrumentation engineering course and was mocked by his college principal for dreaming about a cricket ticket. That this cool world traveller was once a boy easily felled by the dessert table at a buffet. Today, he remembers that kid by rewarding himself with something sweet after a good day at the office.

But what is this thing bowlers call rhythm? With all the patience of a man trying to teach trigonometry to a 10-year-old, Zaheer explains, “It is a feeling that everything is in control. You size up a batsman and decide that you can get him if you bowl in a particular area, and then that’s exactly what you are able to do. Your body and mind are in sync, you are on autopilot, there’s no stress on your body, you don’t feel tired, everything is smooth.”

Zaheer’s Test progress

50 wickets in his 19th Test @ 39.02 vs England, Headingley 2002

100 in his 37th Test @ 36.13, vs B’desh, Chittagong, 2004

150 in his 49th test @ 34.0 vs England Trent Bridge, 2007

2015: Retirement from International cricket

Zaheer Khan in Intenational cricket and most International wickets by Indian bowlers; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 16 2015
Zaheer Khan’s career in numbers; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 16 2015

The Times of India, Oct 16 2015

K ShriniwasRao

Citing injury, Zaheer Khan ends International career

Zaheer brought a zen-like approach to the art of swing bowling which made him one of India's best ever and someone bowlers world over began to look up to. Numbers would tend to build up their own volume for a cricketer who's spent a decade and a half in office.Zaheer has 311 Test scalps to his credit ¬ wickets that can be divided into three crucial phases of his career -In 42 Tests between his debut and 2005, he picked 121 wickets at a strike rate of 65.7. Between 2011 and 2014, there were 38 wickets in 13 Tests. But it was between 2007 and 2011 that Zaheer found his peak, becoming one of the best in the world. In 36 Tests between his return from Worcestershire to limping out of the tour of England in 2011 because of an inured hamstring, Zaheer picked 150 wickets at an average of 28.40 and a strike-rate of 51.9. “From Shrirampur to Chennai to Baroda and then to Mumbai, it's been quite a journey. That's why it's special and makes me feel proud,“ he said in an interaction, admitting that he was still making an effort to come to terms with his decision. Zaheer's career, broadly speaking, can be divided into two stints ¬ before and after 2006. The series loss at home to Pakistan had led to some serious introspection and there was pressure on him to perform or perish. “MuraliKartik called me at that time and said there was a place available in Worcestershire. “Honestly , for me there was no option. It was off-season in India and I just said I wanted to play . I spoke to a few people at the county and left for England,“ he recalls. “It was a completely blank phase where I didn't quite know what the future held for me.“ That one season in Worcestershire, where he picked 78 wickets in 16 matches, didn't just help restore the confidence in the bowler, it gave him the time to change and prepare. “I was advised to shorten my run-up earlier.But while playing international cricket it was just not possible. Worcester gave me that opportunity,“ he said. India's tour of South Africa, where he anchored a young attack and helped it prosper, the historic five-wicket haul at Trent Bridge in 2007, his mastery over the Kiwis in 2010 and his pivotal role in the 2011 World Cup proved to be important milestones in an illustrious career.

`Consulted Tendulkar before retiring'

Mumbai: Zaheer Khan said he consulted batting legend Sachin Tendulkar before calling time on his India career. “Before taking the decision of retiring from international cricket, I had consulted Sachin. We talked about a lot of issues regarding my career and my future. I also talked to Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar and also consulted my coaches before taking the decision,“Zaheer said.

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