The duty of carrying the bowling attack of a nation for close to a decade is no mean feat and in the case of Zaheer Khan is more of an achievement since he carried the burden with aplomb. In terms of other bowlers in the Indian side, it is perhaps only Ishant Sharma who bowled faster than Zaheer during his debut and over the years there have been very few who have been able to make as good an impression as Zaheer Khan when they first came along.
By the time the IPL started, Zaheer was one of the leading bowlers in the world who had everything in his armoury that a fast bowler could want- pace, swing (either way), seam, bounce as well as reverse swing and hence it was not a surprise that the top teams were vying for his signature at the auctions. Over the years he has turned out for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Mumbai Indians with distinction and in fact he was one of the reasons why the Mumbai team went on an excellent run in the 2010 season, when they ended up as the losing finalists. Although, he could not participate for a sustained period of time in the last IPL, one can be sure that he would be back with a bang in the forthcoming season in 2014 after the intense fitness drills that he went through in France this year.
Zaheer Khan is not as fast as he used to be a few years back but even now he cannot be taken lightly by any batsman since he can surprise them with searing pace if he wants. With his guile as a swing bowler, he is an automatic choice as a new ball bowler for any team that he plays. However, the sort of variety that he can bring to the table makes him an equally dangerous bowler in the latter stages of the innings as well. In this regard it must be said that his ability to extract reverse swing in a 20 over game is surely a facet that makes him unique. In addition to that he is extremely accurate with his yorkers which makes him any T20 captain’s dream bowler.
In the first IPL auctions that took place way back in 2008, Zaheer Khan was bought by the Vijay Mallya owned Royal Challengers Bangalore for $450,000. However they swapped him for Robin Uthappa from the Mumbai Indians in the 2009 season and the paceman played the next two seasons for the Mumbai outfit. The swap seemed to work wonders for him as he performed remarkably well for MI in the 2009 and 2010, which prompted the Bangalore franchise to go hell for leather in the 2011 auctions. In an intense round of bidding, RCB bought Zaheer for a whopping $900,000.
Although Zaheer only played two games for the RCB last season, he still managed to win a game for his team with a superb performance against the Chennai Super Kings in a rain truncated 8 over game. In the maximum of two overs that a bowler was permitted to bowl, Zaheer pulled out the very heart of the CSK batting order by accounting for Hussey, Raina and M S Dhoni. The fourth wicket that he took was that of Ravindra Jadeja.
The fact that Zaheer is a wicket taking bowler is quite clear if one looks at the year on year wickets tally but what is indeed an eye catching trend is the fact that he went for nearly 8 runs an over in every season bar the 2009 edition of the IPL which was held in South Africa. Although one might say that the spearhead of any bowling attack should not go for that amount of runs, it needs to be remembered that he usually bowls at the beginning and right at the end, when the batsmen take a lot of risks, which is why his economy rate should not be held against him. On the other hand, the fact that he takes a wicket every 20 odd balls is a more important statistic for all concerned and in fact it is this ability of his that has derailed plenty of innings in the IPL over the years.
Did you know?
Zaheer Khan is perhaps one of the most handsome cricketers in India and hence it is no wonder that he has been dating Bollywood actress Isha Sharvani for the past few years. There have been rocky times of course in the relationship but the couple have made through those times and plan to get married soon.
By Soham Samaddar