Zaheer Khan is one of the finest fast bowlers to have played for India. Known for his genuinely quick seam deliveries, searing Yorkers and the reverse swing with the old ball, the left-arm fast-medium bowler represented India from 2000 till 2014, playing in 92 Tests and 200 one-day international matches. Zaheer ended his career with 311 Test wickets, second only to Kapil Dev among Indian fast bowlers. He also scalped 282 ODI wickets.
As the veteran speedster celebrates his 43rd birthday, let us look at some of his amazing bowling spells:
- Early impact – 2000 ICC Champions Trophy
Zaheer Khan on his 22ndbirthday, playing in his second ODI, rattled the world Champions Australian batting line-up with his pace and swing. He bagged the wickets of Adam Gilchrist and Steve Waugh and ended up with figures of 2 for 40. His spell at Nairobi was instrumental in knocking the champions out of the tournament and securing a 20-run win for India.
- Twin strike – 2003 ICC World Cup
In the Super Sixes stage of the World Cup, Sourav Ganguly decided to send the Kiwis to bat first. India were banking on the likes of Javagal Srinath and the young Zaheer Khan to lead the attack on a pacer friendly pitch at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. The left-arm pacer ripped through the New Zealand batting line-up with 4 for 42. His charismatic spell eventually restricted the Kiwis to 146 runs. India chased the total in 40 overs and posted a seven-wicket victory. Zaheer was awarded as the Man of the Match.
- Lone Ranger – 2003 New Zealand tour
While India had a nightmare of a series with a whitewash drubbing handed by the Kiwis, not only did the Sourav Ganguly led team lose the Test series by 2-0, they suffered a 5-2 humiliating loss in the seven-match ODI series. The lone silver lining was Zaheer Khan’s impressive bowling performance. He picked 11 wickets in the two Tests. During the Test match in Hamilton, Zaheer cleaned up the Kiwi top order and ended up with the figures of 5 for 29.
- High point – 2007 England tour
Zaheer Khan’s high point came during India’s tour of England in 2007. As he led the Indian pace attack, scalping 18 wickets in three tests, his spell helped captain Rahul Dravid earn a 1-0 series win. Zaheer troubled the hosts with his swing bowling, as he picked 4 for 59 in the first innings and 5 for 75 in the second to seal a seven-wicket win for India. His heroics with the ball earned him the Man of the Series award and his performance went to earn him the coveted Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2008.
- Homefront – 2011 World Cup
Zaheer Khan continued with his bowling attack and leading the Indian bowling during India’s successful 2011 World Cup campaign. He picked up 21 wickets, the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament. His performance against West Indies in the group B, bowling his second spell of the match, provided crucial breakthroughs. Zaheer’s 3 for 26, helped India win the game and a second spot in the group table.
He proved his prowess yet again with the reverse swing, off cutters and slower balls. Khan picked the wicket of Michael Hussey in the crucial moment of the quarterfinal game against Australia.