NEW DELHI: India’s finest left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday, saying he was not fit enough to deal with the rigours of the modern game.
“With immediate effect, I bid adieu to my career in international cricket,” Khan said in a statement, adding he will sign off from every format after the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April-May next year.
Zaheer, who turned 37 earlier this month, was India’s go-to new-ball bowler despite being plagued by injuries throughout his career, which began in 2000.
Read: Zaheer Khan retires from internationals
“The toughest call in a cricketing career is when one has to walk away from the game itself,” said Zaheer. “You almost want to push that few extra miles but then the body, after nearly two decades, decides not to respond. As I was training for the upcoming season, it dawned on me that my shoulder may not last the rigours of bowling nearly 18 overs a day, and that’s when I knew it was time.”
Zaheer played the last of his 92 Tests in February 2014 against New Zealand in Wellington before a tendon injury in his bowling arm forced him out.
He finished with 311 Test wickets, making him the second most successful seamer in India, second only to legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev’s haul of 434 wickets.
Zaheer, who claimed 282 wickets in 200 ODIs, was also part of India’s World Cup squads in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
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His 21 wickets in 2011 made him the tournament’s joint leading wicket-taker when India won the World Cup under MS Dhoni in Mumbai.
“My greatest cricketing moment was lifting the World Cup,” said Zaheer. “Cricket has been my only life over the past two decades and is in fact the only thing I know well. I walk away with fantastic memories, life defining experiences and great friendships.”
Zaheer’s 610 international wickets across all formats are surpassed in India by only Anil Kumble (956), Harbhajan Singh (706) and Dev (687).
But injuries and the emergence of younger seamers like Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav kept Zaheer out of India’s limited-overs squads since 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015.
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