Pioneer of the Art of Reverse Swing Bowling
Zaheer Khan, born on 7th October 1978 at Shrirampur,
Ahmednagar, Maharashtra quit his engineering studies to pursue a career in cricket.
And his decision was not wrong! Zaheer is one of the best findings of Indian cricket
team. His emergence has been a revelation for Indian cricket which badly needed
a fast bowler.
Zaheer's impressive ODI debut in the ICC Knockout, when two yorkers in three balls
speared into the off stumps of Kenyan batsmen, heightened people's expectations.
His pace and willingness to angle the ball into the body has impressed even the
best in the world. He is an aggressive wicket taking bowler
and has unveiled another potent dimension of his game in the one-dayer at Jodhpur
against Zimbabwe, where he struck Henry Olonga for four sixes off the last four
balls of the innings thus proving that he is an aggressive batsman too.
He stayed in the forefront of India's ICCKO and Champions Trophy campaigns, picking
up 15 wickets, the most prized being Steve Waugh's, which showed he could unsettle
the best in the business. Always presenting a composed exterior, his bursts of speed
and willingness to angle the ball into the body can discompose most batsmen. A left arm fast bowler considered as the spearhead
of the Indian bowling attack, Zaheer is known for his ability to swing the ball
both ways. After leading the Indian pace attack, recurring hamstring injuries in
2003 and 2004 forced him out of the team and after returning for a year, he was
dropped again. In late 2005, pacemen Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and R. P. Singh made
their international debuts and became regular members of the Indian team making
it difficult for Zaheer to retain his position in the playing eleven. He returned
for the 2006 tour of Pakistan, where India fielded three left arm pacemen and had
difficulty dismissing Pakistan with a lack of variety in the bowling attack. Zaheer,
with inferior results to those of Irfan Pathan and Singh, was dropped. In Indian
domestic cricket, Zaheer made his name playing for Baroda, but transferred to Mumbai
at the start of the 2006-07 Indian cricket season his debut for Mumbai until the
final of the Ranji Trophy in which he took 9 wickets as Mumbai defeated Bengal.
Zaheer is also a pioneer of the art of reverse swing bowling.
In 2006, Zaheer signed for Worcestershire County Cricket Club as their second overseas
player as a replacement for Australian Nathan Bracken. He became the first Worcestershire
player to take 10 wickets in a match on debut for over 100 years against Somerset,
even though Worcestershire eventually lost the game. In June 2006 he took the first
nine wickets to fall in the first innings against Essex, ending with 9-138. Had
wicket-keeper Steven Davies not dropped a catch offered by last man Darren Gough
he would have become the first bowler ever to take all ten for the country.
In late 2006, Zaheer was recalled to the Test and ODI team for the tour of South
Africa. After consistent performances on tour, his performance in early 2007 in
home ODIs against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, including a career best 5/42, saw
him named in the squad for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
He won the Man of the Match award in the first test between India and Australia
at Bangalore, in the 2008-2009 series for his all round performance with the bat
and the ball. He became the third Indian, after Rusi Surti and Kapil Dev, to score
a half century and take five wickets in an innings in the same match against Australia.
He has since become the strike-bowler and a permanent fixture in the Indian team.
Zaheer also won the Man of the Match award in
the T20 Worldcup 2009 against Ireland for taking 4 wickets by giving only 19 runs.
Zaheer Khan’s journey so far and his undying spirit to strike back when everyone
thinks he is done, is a living example that tells us not to call it a day until
we have shown our mettle to the world!