Swinging memories; Farewell, Zaheer!

His career was one of evolution and transcendence that culminated in deliverance. Of the world cup. What more can a fast bowler ask for, really?

Zaheer Khan announced his retirement from cricket on October 22.   -  PTI

Zaheer Khan announces retirement. Flashes. Memorable phases of play, ‘Zak’ cacheted over time. Ovid, the Roman poet likened time to ocean waves, reflecting on life’s transience. “So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows.” Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Pause. Rewind.

Ahmedabad, India. March 24, 2011.

India versus Australia in a world cup quarterfinal.

Australia 150 for three. Ponting unbeaten on 56. Overs left, 19.2. Enter Hussey. Dhoni tosses the ball to Zak. Time to strike.

In the third ball of the second over for the spell, Zaheer steams in from over the wicket. Suggestions galore. As members of his bowling arsenal grapple for attention.

"Catch him off-guard," goads the Lifter.

"In the block hole! Before he gets on a roll," suggests Yorker.

Reverse Swing? *Sneers*

"Deceive him, subtly" comes a silky whisper from the knuckle-ball, the new kid on the block.

Zak sways. Huss plays all over it. Off-stump takes a hit. Stump mic yelps. Zak celebrates. Arms outstretched, relishing the effect of his con. Captain's faith reposed, promptly.

Five days later.. India reaches final.

Flashback.

Johannesburg, South Africa. March 23, 2003.

Ind vs Aus, World cup final.

Ganguly wins the toss and elects to ba... er, bowl first. Zak takes the new ball.

First over. 1nb 0 2nb 1 0 0 5wd 4 1wd 0. Big stage. Pressure.

7-0-67-0. Two no balls. Six wides. Gilchrist. Ponting. Martyn. Pressure.

Cut. Fast forward.

Mumbai, India. April 2, 2011.

Ind vs SL, World cup final.

Sanga wins toss. India to bowl. Zak takes the new ball.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. "What was before is left behind. What never was is now."

Zak runs in. The characteristic hop preceding the delivery stride was not to be. Action modified, of course. Dot. Eighteen of them. 3-3-0-0, spell reads. Tharanga accounted for. In the next over.

Cut. Fast forward. India wins. Zaheer Khan, Joint highest wicket-taker. 21 wickets. End.

*Thought pop* His career was one of evolution and transcendence that culminated in deliverance. Of the world cup. What more can a fast bowler ask for, really?