Zaheer Khan: A True Challenger
During the last few years, India has seen number of fast bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar etc. amongst many others. Once out with an injury or out of form, they normally struggle to make a comeback to the Indian team. But there is one name who has been an automatic choice even after coming from an injury and ‘out of form’ is ‘out of question’ for him. He may be only a player in the Indian team, but even the skipper M.S. Dhoni acknowledges the fact that his role is much bigger than that. If Sachin Tendulkar’s presence in the team makes look the batting order completely different, than this man’s presence in the team makes look bowling department really threatening! No marks for guessing, since this challenger can only be Zaheer Khan!
The testimony to the above facts comes out of the India’s final frontier series against the South Africans. During the first test, Indians were laughed at for having a mediocre and a club level bowling attack. Once Zak entered the team, India went on to win the second test by 87 runs! Zaheer has easily donned the role of bowling spearhead/mentor in the team. Even legends like Sunny Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri admit to the fact the Sreesanth, Nehra, Munaf etc are different bowlers altogether when Zaheer is in the team.
Currently Zaheer is amongst the best bowlers in world cricket. If it is hard to believe, you can surely ask the South African Skipper Graeme Smith, who is also his favorite bunny. He is a surgeon who uses the ball like a scalpel. His Lethal In-Swingers, Unplayable Yorkers, ability to reverse swing the ball and the skipper’s trust in him during crunch situation make him all the more dangerous. Zaheer was instrumental in India’s journey to the final of 2003 edition picking 18 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 20 runs per wicket. He has picked a total of 23 wickets in 14 World Cup matches he has played.
Apart from an off- incident involving his verbal-dual with burly Hayden in 2003 World Cup final, Zak has been exceptionally well on the biggest stage of cricket. Coming out as a winner from crunch situations is what Zak loves. He is a bowler with ability to thrive in tough situations. Cutting short his run-up, lessening his jump during the bowling action, coming down from 140 kmph to 130’s, he doesn’t mind making changes in his bowling to make it more lethal. Not only he is an exceptional bowler, he is a gritty batsman as well lower down the order.
It will be a treat for Cricket lovers to see this Royal Challenger in action for India at the Biggest Stage, when he along with Harbhajan Singh will shoulder the team that aims to fulfill the billion dreams by winning the cup after 28 years.
Ask Zaheer, how he intends to support India during the premier cricket tournament, he will instantly show his tri-colored ponytail. Hope this Royal Challenger continues to be a nightmare for batsmen in the coming World Cup. Left- handed fast bowlers have always played a crucial role in their team winning the World Cup- Wasim Akram for Pakistan, Chaminda Vaas for Sri Lanka etc. There is every reason to believe this time it is Zaheer Khan for India!!!
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