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Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan (born 7 October 1978, Srirampur town in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra), is an Indian cricketer who has been a member of the Indian cricket team since 2000. A left arm pace bowler, Zaheer is known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, and as a batsman also holds the record for the highest Test score by a No. 11. After leading the Indian pace attack for much of the early 2000s, recurring hamstring injuries in 2003 and 2004 forced him out of the team, and after returning for a year, he was dropped again in late 2005. Strong performances on the domestic circuit have seen him recalled to the team as its leading pace bowler.

Zaheer was selected in 2000 for the first intake of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, He made his Test debut against Bangladesh at Dhaka and ODI debut against Kenya at Nairobi during the ICC KnockOut Trophy in the same year.

He has taken over 200 ODI wickets at an average of 26 runs per wicket taking 4 wickets in a match 6 times (4 times against Zimbabwe) including 32 wickets against Zimbabwe at an average of 17.46 runs per dismissal. He, along with other seamers like Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra helped India to make it to the finals of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Zaheer finished the 2003 World cup as 4th highest wicket taker - 18 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 20 runs per wicket.

Zaheer has taken over 150 Test wickets at an average of just over 33 runs per wicket. Zaheer was at the peak of his Test career in the 2002-2003 season. In 16 matches from the beginning of the tour of West Indies in April 2002 to the end of the 1st match against Australia in December 2003, Brisbane, Zaheer took 54 wickets from 16 matches at an average of 30 runs. It all turned downhill after the First Test against Australia in Brisbane in December 2003. Having taken 5 of the top 7 Australian batsmen in the first innings (5 for 95), he injured himself in the second during the opening spell. After missing the Second Test in Adelaide, he returned for the Third Test in Melbourne, but was injured midway through the match and was forced to return home. The injury kept him from the early 2004 tour of Pakistan, India's first Test series victory there.

Zaheer holds the world record for the highest Test score by a number 11 when he scored 75 for India v Bangladesh in Dhaka, 2004. His partnership with Sachin Tendulkar which produced 133 runs is an Indian-record for the tenth-wicket. His batting average of 19.46 at number 10 is also the highest for a batsman in ODIs.

In late 2005 pacemen Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and R. P. Singh made their international debuts and became regular members of the Indian team making it difficult for Zaheer to retain his position in the playing eleven. The Board of Control for Cricket in India demoted Zaheer from a B-grade to a C-grade contract at the end of the year.

He returned for the 2006 tour of Pakistan, where India fielded three left arm pacemen and had difficulty dismissing Pakistan with a lack of variety in the bowling attack. Zaheer, with inferior results to those of Irfan Pathan and Singh, was dropped.

In Indian domestic cricket, Zaheer made his name playing for Baroda, but transferred to Mumbai at the start of the 2006-07 season . However, due to international commitments, he did not make his debut for Mumbai until the final of the Ranji Trophy in which he took 9 wickets as Mumbai defeated Bengal.

In 2006 Zaheer signed for Worcestershire County Cricket Club as their second overseas player as a replacement for Australian Nathan Bracken. He became the first Worcestershire player to take 10 wickets in a match on debut for over 100 years against Somerset, even though Worcestershire eventually lost the game. In June 2006 he took the first nine wickets to fall in the first innings against Essex, ending with 9-138; had wicket-keeper Steven Davies not dropped a catch offered by last man Darren Gough he would have become the first bowler ever to take all ten for the county.

In late 2006, Zaheer was recalled to the Test and ODI team for the tour of South Africa, following a form slump to Baroda team-mate Irfan Pathan and injuries to Munaf Patel. After consistent performances on tour, his performance in early 2007 in home ODIs against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, including a career best 5/42, saw him named in the squad for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. He is moulded on the likes of Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas, though not as successful as they are.

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