Happy Birthday, Zak
From what started as a journey to become an engineer, it didn’t have an MNC at the end; for he wanted to sail the uncharted waters and he wanted to live his dream. It was a big risk? It was a gamble? Who knew what would be the conclusion? Or will it even have a result? But, to our surprise, it was a jackpot! It was a sail to victory; it was the beginning of a journey to fame and satisfaction.
Years ago, when he quit his engineering studies to pursue a career in sports, little did anyone expect that he would make a mark in the history of the game. But he came, he conquered, and won a million hearts: Sports loving guys as well as girls!
Boys and girls, it's Zaheer Khan! He swings the new ball and reverses the old, he does well on flat subcontinent pitches and relishes the helpful ones away, and he controls all three balls well - SG, Duke and Kookaburra.
Today, on his 33rd birthday, we celebrate with him those golden moments. There are many moments that have carved a niche in our minds. It was not a giant leap; it was a process. It was step by step that he took to reach the pinnacle of fine bowling tactics. Some of the memorable quotes said by famous cricketing personalities will vouch for it.
Eric Simons: “Zaheer is a guy who knows his action very well. His ability to bowl at the same pace from a short run tells you he knows his action, because not many guys can do it. He is a different bowler because of his wrists. He can swing the ball just with his wrists. To have someone like Zaheer is crucial to lead the group. Again he's got incredible ability technically, and you learn from people like that.”
Zak agreed; initially, it was all about aggression. But as time went by, he learned the tactics. His stint with Worcestershire in 2006 has helped him learn it all. Now, he varies the pace, marks the fielding positions and changes the length each time he seeks the opportunity.
If you want to understand what bowlers like Zaheer are to captains, maybe Sachin Tendulkar can explain. He described what it was leading a team that had Anil Kumble. "If something was happening, I would give the ball to Anil. If nothing was happening, I would give the ball to Anil. If you needed to contain runs, you give the ball to Anil. If you needed to attack, you give the ball to Anil." Right now, replace the regal 'Anil' with the cool nickname of 'Zak' because it's what he has become in Tests and ODIs.
What more do we say? Those words just described it all.
Zaheer has seen a fair share of ups and downs, injuries and critics too. But he has also seen the accolades, love and support from his fans. Zak adds "Because you are missing cricket, and you are not playing at the highest level, that frustration is there. Once you start getting back, you start bowling; you again start to enjoy the whole thing. It's a process you need to go through. At the same time you need to be patient. It is important that when you are injured, you take your time. Because you need to start at the level where you left the game. You know you have been away from the game, you have damaged a muscle or a joint, so you kind of need to start slowly.”
And he is right; hard work and dedication has always paid generous. Even when he is not in the team, he has always inspired the players. Sreenath Aravind regards Zak as his biggest inspiration. He adds, “I've been able to iron out a lot of technical flaws while bowling. He has helped me sort out the wrist position while delivering the ball. When Zaheer bowls with a pronounced seam, it is is any left-arm-pacer's dream and it was a dream playing alongside him - he has truly inspired me.”
And like him, there are other aspiring cricketers across the globe who look at Zaheer as their role model. Well, that is true. Zaheer is the real example of hard-work and learning.
We wish you a very Happy Birthday and a grand come-back post recovery.
Excerpts taken from www.espncricinfo.com
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