Saturday, October 17, 2015

Farewell Zaheer Khan

"The toughest call in a cricketing career is when one has to walk away from the game itself. You almost 'will' yourself and want to push that few, extra miles but then the body, after nearly two decades, decides not to respond."

These were the opening words of the farewell statement by Zaheer Khan, without doubt one of India's greatest fast bowlers and cetainly the best left-hand pacer the country has produced.

The numbers first - 610 wickets in 92 Tests, 200 ODIs, 17 T20Is in a career spanning 14 years. These are numbers to be proud of. And to this add being a member of a World Cup winning XI. But sheer numbers cannot define his contribution. He was the leader of India's pace attack and its de facto bowling captain over a large part of his career. And he left quite a few memories to cherish for the Indian fan. Here are my favorite ones.
  1. The yorker to knock out Steve Waugh's stumps in the ICC Knockout event in Kenya in 2000. What a wonderful sight it was to see a yorker delivered by an Indian fast bowler.
  2. 4 consecutive sixes off Henry Olonga to end the innings against Zimbabwe. Yet India contrived to lose that game.
  3. The jellybean incident against England which riled him up so much that he proceeded to destroy the English batting and take India to a rare away series victory.
  4. World Cup 2011 - where he finished as the highest wicket-taker and came up with this memorable quote - "As a bowling unit I think I am doing quite well". Probably a slip of tongue but truer words have seldom been spoken.
  5. The atrocious opening over in the 2003 World Cup final, where he was bowling wides and sledging Gilchrist. But this was more than compensated in the 2011 final where Zaheer started with 3 maidens on the trot.
  6. And the sometimes comical, sometimes exasperating but always entertaining batting.
  7. And finally for this - from a game in which he was not even playing
Thank you for all the wonderful memories Zaheer Khan!

As he himself closes out his statement.
'Zak is Back' is perhaps a headline that may come my way again, as I have every intention of giving back to this game and our wonderful country which gave this kid from Shrirampur the opportunity to chase and live his dream!

Full Text of the statement

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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