Zaheer Khan is a former Indian cricketer who played as a left-arm fast-medium bowler. He is considered as the best Indian pace bowler in Test cricket after the legendary
and was famous for his perfect fast yorkers. He was born on 7 October 1978 in Shrirampur, Maharashtra to Bakhtiyar and Zaika Khan. He has a younger brother, Anees, and an elder brother, Zeeshan.
He completed his schooling from the K. J. Somaiyya Secondary School in Shrirampur and played at the local Revenue Colony Cricket Club. He joined the National Cricket Club in Mumbai in 1996 where he left everyone spellbound after his 7/74 performance at the Purshottam Shield competition. Impressed by his talent, his coach, T.A. Sekhar, encouraged him to play for Baroda.
Khan participated in the 2001 Ranjhi Trophy for the side, becoming the Man of the Match in the final against Railways in which he took five wickets conceding just sixteen runs, and ultimately finished the match with an 8/145 score, helping Baroda lift the trophy for the first time in forty-three years. In 2005, he signed as one of the two overseas players at the Worcestershire County Cricket Club in England.
He took all the ten wickets in his debut against Somerset becoming the first player of the club to do so in a hundred years, though his side went on to lose that match. In the Indian Premier League, he played for Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians before captaining Delhi Daredevils in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. At 38 years, he became the oldest, the 8th Indian and the 10th bowler in the history of IPL to pick a hundred wickets.
At the international level, he made his ODI debut against Kenya and Test debut against Bangladesh during the 2000 ICC knockout Trophy after being selected for the team from the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He helped India reach the 2003 World Cup finals along with his fellow bowlers,
, and Javagal Srinath, as the fourth-highest wicket-taker of the tournament. He is also the fourth-highest ODI wicket-taker of India with 282 wickets for an average of just 29 runs.
In 2005, he was demoted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to the C-grade contract from his previous B-grade one due to the entries of R.P. Singh and Sreesanth. However, after injuries to Irfan Khan and Munaf Patel saw him being recalled for the international squad late in 2006. In early 2007, he displayed his career's best of 5/42 at the odis against West Indies and Australia, consolidating his position in the team. In Test matches, Zaheer has collected 311 wickets at an average of 32 runs, his 300th one being against the South African superstar all-rounder, Jacques Kallis.
He also held the world record for most runs scored by an 11 number jersey when he partnered with the fantastical
for 133 runs, hitting off 75 runs himself. He was a key asset to the Indian cricket team during their victory at the 2011 World Cup, where he shared the title of the highest wicket-taker with Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi for 21 scalps.
It was during the same tournament that he introduced his famous ‘knuckle ball’ style, using it to dismiss crucial players, including Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Devon Smith and Michael Hussey. Overall, Khan has gathered 44 wickets in nine years at World Cups, ranking him sixth in the list of highest number of wickets taken by a player at the prestigious tournament.
On 15 October 2015, he announced his retirement from first-class and international cricket. Later that year, he tied the knot with actress
on 23 November 2017. He currently acts as a bowling consultant for the Indian national cricket team. .