It is great to see a good left-arm fast bowler from India. I saw Zaheer Khan in 2000 in an Indian Airlines vs MRF game in Bangalore. He impressed us and I thought he was of international class straightaway. I spoke to Chandu Borde, the then chairman of selectors, and said, “Look, this is the best fast bowler we have at the moment.”
That’s how Zaheer came into prominence and he has done extremely well. If he had taken care of his body well, he would have taken 100 more Test wickets, I would say. He was unique, he was rapid. He had the right kind of pace. He was a complete left-arm seamer.
It is unreasonable to compare him with other left-armers around the world. It is unfair. He is the best left-arm pacer India has produced. Together, we shared the new ball for India in the 2003 World Cup.
We would sit in front of the computer and analyse the opponents. Zaheer, Ashish (Nehra) and myself would sit together in front of the system and analyse the batsmen and how to go about it. I am very pleased with his career overall.
We had a lot of discussions, we shared knowledge, we exchanged ideas on what we could do, what was the best way for him to operate, etc. With the help of technology, that became easy.
Among the things that we discussed, injuries was not a major part as he was young and fit then. Mostly we spoke about bowling, the nuances of bowling, how to read the line and length, how to read the batsmen. These were the things we exchanged. His strength against the right-handers was a natural advantage with him being a left-armer.
I thought he was at his best in the 2011 World Cup. I did not play too long with him but 2003 World Cup was the main thing.
There have been talks of giving some of the seniors in the Indian team including Zaheer a farewell game or series. But I don’t think you can plan for it. If it has to happen, it has to happen. It all depends on how you manage yourself.
—Javagal Srinath is India’s third highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Tests behind Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan. He is also India’s highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in ODIs. He played 14 Tests and 24 ODIs with Zaheer Khan from 2000 to 2003. He spoke with G Krishnan
Srinath was the only one who said that I could have played for one more year easily, and you should push. I told him, being a pace bowler yourself, you shouldn’t be telling me all this. You should relate to me, and not tell me to play another year (laughs)