For a long while, Zaheer Khan was India’s undisputable pace spearhead. He was the go-to man for most captains who had him in their squad. An extremely attacking opening bowler, he had the ability to come back in the death overs with his many variations and torment the batsmen. He is remembered fondly by Indian cricket fans, and he was recently appointed as the bowling consultant to the Indian cricket team. Here’s 10 memorable Zaheer Khan moments:
1. Devastating Bowling in Bangladesh, 2010
In the season of 2010, Zaheer Khan had returned to the Test squad after injury, wearing a back brace. He wasn’t looking in his full physical condition, but in an absolutely destructive return spell, he repaid MS Dhoni’s faith in him by getting late and deadly reverse swing, and picking up 3 Bangladeshi wickets in the space of 4 balls. The Bangladesh team didn’t recover, and went on to lose the series 2-0.
2. NatWest Trophy Final, 2002
Zaheer Khan came together with Mohammed Kaif to complete what was one of Indian cricket’s most famous victories. It was a nail-biting finish to say the least, and the winning runs were scored off an over throw, and which Indian cricket fan can forget Saurav Ganguly’s famous celebration in the balcony. Indian fans will always remember Zaheer Khan for that final.
3. India vs England, ICC CWC 2011
India had scored a mammoth 338, riding on the Little Master’s century, but England were looking like running away with it, with Andrew Strauss playing the knock of his life until Zaheer Khan was re-introduced into the attack. In consecutive balls, he removed Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss, who were set and looking to finish the game. The rest is well known. The match went on to be a tie and of the greatest World Cup matches ever.
4. Graeme Smith- his ‘bunny’
Zaheer Khan had a knack for getting the left handers. He had the ability to bring the ball in and move it the other way. The left handers were his bread and butter. And Graeme Smith was no different. He got out to Zaheer Khan 13 times in his international career, and who can forget the famous interview?
5. 4 consecutive sizes, 2000
In a game that India eventually went on to lose, against associate nation Zimbabwe, India was on 256 for the loss of 8 wickets, and there was an over to go. Zaheer Khan wielded his bat like a club and clobbered Henry Olonga for 4 consecutive sixes. It was a display of sheer power hitting from Zaheer, which Indian fans won’t forget for a long time.
6. First and only 5 wicket haul in ODIs
During Sri Lanka’s tour of India in 2007, at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, he picked up a magnificent 5-42, including the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. He was absolutely lethal and unplayable.
7. 10 wicket haul in Test cricket
In 2010, at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur, Zaheer Khan provided all present with an absolute masterclass of pace and swing bowling. His first innings returns weren’t too high, with figures of 3-62, but in the second innings he came roaring back with an amazing 7-87 to destroy Bangladesh and complete his first 10 wicket haul in his career.
8. CSK vs RCB, 2013
The South Indian derby is always a hotel contested game, and avidly followed by millions of cricket fans. Zaheer Khan turned up, and how. He ripped through the Chennai bowling line-up with figures of 4-17, which included the wickets of Hussey, Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja. RCB went on to win the game by 24 runs.
9. Worcestershire vs Essex, 2006
In a county match, Zaheer Khan displayed extreme talent, swinging the ball both ways and removing 9 out of 10 of the batsmen. But for a dropped catch off the 11th man, he would have gone on to become the first Indian to claim a 10 wicket/innings haul.
10. Live proposal on TV
During a game against Pakistan when Sehwag and Dravid were on strike, the camera was focused on a certain girl in the crowd, who, like most other female Indian cricket fans had fallen for Zaheer Khan’s rugged good looks. She had a placard asking ZAK to marry her. The camera shifted focus from her to him in the dressing room a number of times until he, in all his charm blew her a big kiss on camera. Classic ZAK.
By Aravind Harish