Zaheer’s journey to success illustrated strength of his character: VVS

VVS Laxman on Monday paid tribute to Zaheer Khan, saying the journey of the former Indian pacer from “tiny” Shrirampur to the “dizzy heights of success” illustrated the strength of his character.

“Daring to dream big and determined to chase those dreams, Zaheer Khan’s journey from tiny Shrirampur to the dizzy heights of success illustrated the strength of his character,” Laxman said in a tweet.

“His career-defining county stint at Worcester reiterated his desire to reinvent himself and shed comfort zones,” he added.

Zaheer, who made his international debut in an ODI against Kenya in October 2000, was part of the potent pace attack in the 2003 World Cup alongwith Ashish Nehra and Javagal Srinath in which India had a dream-run into the finals.
However, in the summit clash, he was taken to the cleaners by the Australian batsmen as he ended up leaking 67 runs in 7 overs.

This started a downward spiral for the left-arm pacer as injuries and poor form forced him out of the team for a considerable period. He made a return in 2004 but lacked the pace and accuracy and ultimately conceded his spot to the likes of RP Singh, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and Sreesanth.

However, it was then he decided to take the county-path and regain his fitness. After signing with Worcestershire, he immediately regained his form. He picked up 10 wickets on debut for the county, becoming the first player in over a hundred years to achieve the feat. Following his successful county stint, he was recalled into Team India in 2006.

His experience was most used by MS Dhoni in the successful 2011 World Cup when he was the joint leading wicket-taker (along with Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi) in the tournament with 21 wickets.

Zaheer went on to play 200 ODIs for India in which he scalped 282 wickets. Besides, he also played 92 Tests and 17 T20Is, picking 311 and 17 wickets respectively.

He announced his retirement from the international cricket in 2016.