Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

India tour of South Africa 2013: Zaheer Khan expected to bowl impact spells

At Johannesburg in 2006, Zaheer Khan took 5 wickets in the match © Getty Images
At Johannesburg in 2006, Zaheer Khan took 5 wickets in the Test match against South Africa © Getty Images

 

Zaheer Khan doesn’t boast of a great record in South Africa, but one has to look beyond numbers to understand his real worth in those conditions. Nishad Pai Vaidya explains.

 

In 2006, Zaheer Khan was picked for the tour to South Africa as India needed experience for the tough tour. Greg Chappell’s regime had seen an unfit and under-performing Zaheer out of the side earlier in the year as the Indians groomed a young pace attack. However, Zaheer turned to county cricket — a move that worked wonders for the left-arm paceman. Not only did he regain his form, but also became a lot fitter. The results were evident as a rejuvenated Zaheer looked a new bowler and entered a more productive phase of his career starting with that sojourn in the Rainbow Nation.

 

Seven years down the line, Zaheer braces himself for another comeback in South Africa and there is an inevitable sense of déjà vu. This time, he headed to France for an intense fitness regime and is certainly leaner. During the start of the ongoing Ranji season, he did decently well for Mumbai and India needed his vital experience for this tough tour. You have Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav in the scheme of things and they would benefit from Zaheer’s presence. Of course, there is the ‘experienced’ Ishant Sharma, but he doesn’t inspire the same confidence.

 

Once Zaheer returned in 2006, he was a changed bowler and his returns were better in the second half of the 2000s. Then, he was in his late 20s and still had a lot to prove and he did silence his critics. This time, he doesn’t have anything to prove per se as he has been a good servant for Indian cricket and has fashioned numerous victories. But, there is something expected of him as he walks into the final lap of his career. Starting from the ongoing tour, India face a tough road away from home and Zaheer has to play a crucial role.

 

Let us have a look at Zaheer’s record in South Africa:

 

M

W

Ave

BBI

BBM

5WI

6

23

32.52

4/62

6/93

0

 

These numbers aren’t great, but what these statistics don’t reveal is that he has bowled a few impact spells in the country. If one takes away the solitary Test he played in South Africa in 2001, then he has taken his 23 wickets on the previous two visits i.e. in 2006-07 and 2010-11. At Johannesburg in 2006, his match haul of five scalps combined with Shanthakumaran Sreesanth’s dream spell to help India win the Test. Later at Cape Town, when India were trying to win the series, he scalped four in the final innings to give the hosts a scare.

 

Four years later, Zaheer missed the first Test and India were walloped by the home side. However, the moment he entered the picture at Durban, he led a revival. His best match figures of six for 93 came in that game as he scalped three in each innings. India won the game on a testing pitch largely due to their bowling performance. He followed that up with another three-for in the first innings of the final Test at Cape Town.

 

Thus, his records may not look great in South Africa, but he has bowled those crucial spells time and again after his first tour. It looks like his performance on this tour could help the selectors determine how long he can continue. Since, this tour has only two Tests, Zaheer should be able to retain his spot for the New Zealand sojourn. The performances on both these tours taken together would determine his fate for the all important England tour. The Indian selectors aren’t afraid to take chances and have looked beyond him in the past.

 

This is the 35-year-old Zaheer’s time to plot a final flourish!

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

 

South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket

 

 

 

 

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

England Women won by 9 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

India won by 6 wkts

Photos

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play cricket

Videos

Prince William, Kate Middleton meet McGrath, Ellyse

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Live Cricket Score IPL 2014: KKR beat MI by 41 runs in tournament opener

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

IPL: What value does a franchisee owner bring to the side by sitting in the dugout?

Australia BCCI England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga Moments in history Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders Royal Challengers Bangalore Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014 partners with Twitter to bring real-time experience to fans

Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis star in Kolkata Knight Riders’ 41-run victory against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2014

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 113/5 in 18 overs

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 95/2 in 15 overs

IPL 2014: Sunil Gavaskar meets team captains and former players

IPL 2014: Begins yet another Controversy Premier League

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2009: Looking at events that led to T20 extravaganza being held in South Africa

IPL 2014: Top 10 Indian youngsters to watch out for

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplin: A tribute to a great comedian

How did Kangana Ranaut redefine phasion, fun and gun in Revolver Rani?

Know your medical terms: Edema

Bengali film Jaatishwar bags four National Awards

IPL 2014: How does the umpire cam work?

IPL 2014: 5 tips to use your smartphones to click pictures in a stadium

Free Hugs video by Juan Mann is voted as YouTube Video of the Year

Stay healthy with these 8 summer foods (Gallery)

Also on cricketcountry.com