Suyash Srivastava praises India’s one man army whose bowling led them to triumph in the World Cup.
A lot has been said about the way Yuvraj, Gambhir and Dhoni won the World Cup for the Men in Blue. I haven’t mentioned Tendulkar as it would be inappropriate to thank him for a single tournament. But we tend to forget someone else who has single handedly led the Indian bowling attack, had been in lethal form right throughout the tournament and has delivered much more than what was expected of him but has been deprived of some deserving praise. He is the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack, he is Zaheer Khan.
The Indian fans can never forget the 2003 World Cup final against Australia for two reasons. The first being the one handed sixes hit by skipper Ricky Ponting and second being the first over of the Indian innings bowled by Zaheer Khan. It was a ten ball over and Zak leaked 15 runs off it bowling too wayward and didn’t look like a deserving candidate to have opened the spell for India.
He gave 67 runs off 7 overs and though the other bowlers were being thrashed as well, Ganguly didn’t consider him fit to complete his quota of 10 overs. The 2011 World Cup was a different story altogether. He bowled three maidens off the first four overs that straight away built the pressure.
Four years down the line the man has shown tremendous improvement. He was the heart of the Indian bowling attack and his spells gave other bowlers a boost to deliver their best. He was a source of inspiration for Sreesanth, Nehra and the spinners who often capitalized upon the pressure built by the ‘Zak attack’
His first spell in the final match against Sri Lanka in Wankhede was the turning point of the match. It was a foundation laid by him that led to the World Cup triumph. Tharanga and Dilshan who had been involved in two double hundred partnerships in the tournament were helpless in front of his accurate bowling. Learning from his mistakes of 2003 World Cup final, he also made sure that that it was his bowling that did all the talking.
India never looked to be a World Cup deserving team with a bowling attack that was expected to fail defending any score. But it was Zaheer Khan who made everyone believe that India can and India will win the World Cup. From taking two wickets in two balls against England to bowling three maidens against the Lankan lions, he always proved to be worth appreciation.
While the batsmen are taking away all the credit, it’s time to thank the left hand bowler for his monumental contribution. He was the leading wicket taker along with Shahid Afridi with 21 wickets and that is a fact that has over overshadowed the memories of 2003 World Cup.
The fresh ones will be cherished forever.
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