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Zaheer Khan – Last opportunity lost?

Modified 12 Oct 2013, 16:39 IST

Australia v India - Third Test: Day 2

Once a former Ranji cricketer, a friend of mine, asked me as to what were the essential requirements to become a successful cricketer? I gave him a list of answers, viz. skill, hard work, determination, adequate coaching and vigorous net practice. He said yes, all this was partly required, but the most vital ingredient was luck!

This is perhaps the most befitted situation applicable for veteran Zaheer Khan. After Kapil Dev, he was the only bowler who had the ability to swing the ball both ways. For many many years, he has been contributing in the victory of team India by fruitfully utilizing his skills. He was the leading fast bowler for a long time, alongside a variety of spinners right from Anil Kumble to Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar and R Ashwin.

He carries the image of a cool and hardworking workhorse who has a never say die spirit. He is so committed for the cause, that he went to France along with Yuvraj to undergo a fitness training programme under the guidance of famous trainer Tim Exeter. Very surprisingly, he has been able to shed out the extra fat and is much slimmer than before. In fact, both Zaheer and Yuvraj had expressed their desire to play in the next World Cup.

However, their immediate target was to make an entry back into the team India. Yuvraj has already been able to find a place, but Zaheer entry is still questionable. He has not really been able to deliver for India A. But how much of this can be attributed to luck?

We must have a realistic appraisal of the ground reality. Unfortunately, Zaheer Khan has not been able to impress in this second term! In his last match, he was able to get only one wicket. The media highlighted that though he could not get many wickets, but his bowling was quite impressive – with a wonderful line and length. But this below par performance is not going to help him out.

Zaheer Khan must realize that earlier there were not many replacements available. But now, young bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav have been perfoming consistently. Keeping in view their age and stamina, they would be preferred over Zaheer unless he outshines.

But he has not done so well. Yes, he has been a little unlucky, but to be fair, expecting miracles is not the ideal thing now. My earnest desire is that in his last spell for India A, he should give one final magical performance and then say a final goodbye. This would be the best situation for him as well as the fans. Incidentally, this seems to be an appropriate time to take the final bow, as shown by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar recently.

Come what may, team India and millions of fans will always value his contributions and hope that his experience benefits the youngsters in the future.

Published 12 Oct 2013, 16:39 IST
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