The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our fifth "Cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee is one of India's best pacers ever, Zaheer Khan.
Teams - Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils
- One of seven fast bowlers to have taken 100 or more wickets in IPL History.
- Has dismissed MS Dhoni seven times in IPL which is the most against any batsman for a bowler.
- One of six Indian pacers to have taken 10 or more wickets in a season five or more times.
What makes him HoF worthy: A player-cum-mentor, two in one!
Royal Challengers Bangalore → Mumbai Indians → Royal Challengers Bangalore → Mumbai Indians → Delhi Daredevils
Zaheer Khan had already played almost eight years of international cricket when the Indian Premier League was introduced in 2008. The left-arm paceman was at the peak of his abilities when he was signed by the Bangalore-based franchise for the first season of the tournament. He did pick up some wickets but leaked runs at an economy of 8.5. He shifted his base to Mumbai next year but could only play six fixtures because of a shoulder injury. His best performances in the IPL came in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
He formed a solid trio with Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh in 2010 and played a key role in helping Mumbai play their first final. After spending two years with the franchise, Zaheer went back to Bangalore and worked closely with the likes of Sreenath Aravind, Vinay Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat. He was picking wickets and also helping these young pacers graduate to the next level. Zaheer, whose career was hampered by injuries, wasn't getting any younger and it started to reflect as he could only play 15 games in the next three seasons.
However, Zaheer's role wasn't just limited to the field. Malinga might have taken Jasprit Bumrah under his wings but Zaheer too played his part. If he was playing, Zaheer was more like a bowling captain who would help other bowlers with field settings and many other things. In the twilight of his career, he shifted his base to Delhi Daredevils in 2015, playing the role of a player-cum-mentor. He could only play seven matches that season because of an injury but was around the Delhi camp, mentoring all the young players.
Zaheer was 36 when Delhi appointed him as their captain and the seamer led the franchise in 2016 and 2017. They won a decent number of matches under his leadership but failed to make it to the playoffs both times. He played an instrumental role in the development of Mohammed Shami and Khaleel Ahmed. In 2017, Delhi had Zaheer, Shami, Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins and Ben Hilfenhaus and watching them bowl in tandem was a delight for Indian fans. Cummins was so impressed with Zaheer's leadership qualities that he wanted "to take him back to Australia".
He announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in 2017. Prior to IPL 2019, Zaheer returned to Mumbai Indians as Director of Cricket Operations. The left-arm seamer never had that big IPL season but he was always around and his contribution to the franchise-based league is huge. India now have the likes of Bumrah, Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Saini, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and many other emerging fast bowlers and Zaheer has played his part in helping India become a powerhouse in the pace department.
* The 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' only takes into account players who have announced their retirement from IPL and last played in the 2018 season.