Zaheer Khan (born 7 October 1978) is an Indian cricketer who has been a member of the Indian cricket team since 2000. A left-arm fast bowler, Khan is best known for his ability to swing the ball both ways. Khan can also use the reverse swing. He was one of the key members of the 2011 World Cup winning team, leading an attack with 21 wickets in just 9 games. He is regarded as one of the best fast bowlers from India since Kapil Dev, and is considered among the best left hand fast bowlers in the world along with Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas. He is most destructive against left hand batsmen like Graeme Smith, Mathew Hayden, Andrew Strauss, Kumar Sangakkara, Alastair Cook and Michael Hussey.
Zaheer was selected in 2000 for the first intake of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He made his Test debut against Bangladesh and ODI debut against Kenya during the ICC KnockOut Trophy in the same year.In late 2005 pacemen 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 2005 tour of Pakistan, where India fielded three left arm pacemen and had difficulty dismissing Pakistan with a lack of variety in the bowling attack.
In Indian domestic cricket, Zaheer made his name playing for Baroda. In the 2000/01 Ranji Trophy final against Railways, Zaheer was Man of the Match with eight wickets, including a second innings haul of 5/43, in Baroda’s narrow 21-run victory. He transferred to Mumbai at the start of the 2006-07 Indian cricket season his debut for Mumbai until the final of the Ranji Trophy in which he took 9 wickets as Mumbai defeated Bengal. In 2005 Zaheer signed for Worcestershire County Cricket Club in England as one of their two overseas players, replacing Shoaib Akhtar. Although Worcestershire went on to lose the match, Zaheer took ten wickets against Somerset on debut, in doing so he became the first Worcestershire player to take 10 wickets on debut for over 100 years. In June 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. Late in 2006, Zaheer was recalled to the Test and ODI team for the tour of South Africa, following Irfan Pathan‘s slump in form and an injury 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 World Cup. He won the Man of the Match award in the first Test between India and Australia in the 2008–2009 series in India for his all round performance with the bat and the ball.
He has taken 282 ODI wickets at an average of just over 29 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 World Cup. Zaheer finished the tournament as fourth highest wicket-taker ‐ 18 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 20 runs per wicket.Zaheer was the mainstay of Indian bowling attack during the side’s victorious 2011 World Cup campaign. He was the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, joint with Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi on 21. He is 5th in world and leading Indian wicket taker in a world cup along with Javagal Srinath (44 wickets)but Zaheer has achieved this feat in only 23 matches while Srinath has taken 34 mathches.
Zaheer has taken 295 Test wickets at an average of just over 32 runs per wicket. 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 he returned for the third, 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 in the country.
Zaheer Khan holds the record of the highest score by number 11 batsman in Test cricket. Earlier, Zaheer held the world record for the highest Test score by a number 11 when he scored 75 against Bangladesh in 2004. At the time he was batting with Sachin Tendulkar; the pair amassed 133 runs, a new record for India’s tenth-wicket. This record was broken by Tino Best of the West Indies in 2012. The current record holder is Ashton Agar of the Australia on his debut match in 2013. In July 2011 India embarked on a tour of England. Having bowled 13.3 overs, Zaheer strained his hamstring and suffered an ankle injury in the first Test of the four-match series and as a result was ruled out of the rest of the tour. Zaheer came back in December and played a test match against Australia on Boxing day. He took two wickets in two consecutive deliveries, dismissing Michael Clarke for 31 and Mike Hussey for a duck. In the second test at Sydney, he took three wickets only the best figure in that innings. Currently Zaheer Khan holds rank number 15 in ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers.Currently, Zaheer is in the test squad for the upcoming South African Series in December 2013.