Just-retired Zaheer Khan admits being too charged up for the 2003 World Cup final against Australia didn't help, and hence ensured he was well placed mentally for the 2011 final
On retirement thoughts crossing his mind at any point in his career:
Not really. It was all about making comebacks. I just wanted to be sure. As a cricketer, it is always a tough call (to retire). You are never sure when it is going to come. Till the time I was hopeful of playing at the highest level, I was only thinking of that. Right now when the thought came, it was clear. That is why I felt it is the right time (to call it a day).
On consulting any cricketer before retiring...
The decision was made, and then I went and spoke to everyone. I met Sachin (Tendulkar) also. I had a word with Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar and with all my coaches. I spoke to Sudhir Naik sir and TA Sekhar as well.
Zaheer Khan addresses the media at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
On the 2006 county stint with Worcestershire:
It played a huge role, but I must tell you, leading up to that, I had been advised to cut short my run-up. I was just not able to do that because I was playing international cricket regularly, and those are things you just cannot go and change in the international game. I got an opportunity to work on it while I was away from international cricket. Cutting short my run-up gave me more control. That process happened in county cricket as I bowled more and more with a short run-up. That helped me become a more attacking bowler in terms of exploiting a batsman's weakness.
On mastering reverse swing:
In Indian conditions, the ball would go reverse on most occasions. There is a particular way in which you can release the ball to get the maximum out of it. If you don't do that and don't hide the ball appropriately, you won't get that. I started hiding the ball and it just happened for me. I cannot really pinpoint any particular moment (when I mastered it).
On whether the spell at Nottingham in 2007 was his best:
There have been many spells. Any match-winning spell is a valuable one. I always looked at bowling crucial spells in which I can take two to three wickets and change the course of the match.
On the jelly beans incident during 2007 Test series in England:
I did act up a bit, and that's what everyone does. I am happy about that. I didn't act it up on the field, but post match I did.
Zaheer Khan celebrates the fall of a SL wicket with Virat Kohli during the 2011 World Cup final at Wankhede. Pic/AFP
On learning from the 2003 World Cup final failure and winning the 2011 World Cup final:
In a way it (2003 final) was a good learning (curve) for me. Obviously, I was disappointed when it happened. After the national anthem, everyone was so charged up and I was about to bowl. That didn't help and I was acting out of my character. That was not my natural way of approaching situations. I did go at the (Aussie) batters and in the process I lost control in those two overs. Then, it was hard for me to get back. That experience did help in the 2011 final. As I was standing for the national anthem, I was kind of zoned out and we happened to bowl again this time. The night before, I was saying that I have worked at it. I have got a second opportunity and I know what to do. I looked at it as an experience which was going to help me do better. I did not view it as pressure of not doing well in the 2003 World Cup final.
On missing out on 100-Test milestone by just eight matches:
It is a special number. I have always enjoyed the process, but the way my career has panned out (in the last few years), I had stopped thinking about that (laughs).
On his childhood mentors Sudhir Naik and Vidya Paradkar:
The advice that I got in those early days has been very special. They taught me the right kind of approach towards cricket. I just spent a lot of hours bowling at National Cricket Club and learning from Sudhir Naik sir and Vidya Paradkar sir. Sudhir sir once told me that since I started playing cricket quite late, I had a long way to go in catching up with the others. Hence, I had to spend extra time on the field to do that.
On his early days struggles:
Everything when I look back has a link to it — coming to Mumbai, quitting engineering, going to MRF Pace Foundation, debuting (in first-class cricket) from Baroda and then again coming to Mumbai and playing for India. I believe in destiny and the journey has been a special one. I look back at these moments with a lot of pride.
The number of wickets Zaheer Khan claimed during the 2011 World Cup. He was the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament with Pakistan's Shahid Afridi
Spurred by the jelly bean affair, Zaheer unleashed his fury on England in the second essay to setup India's victory at Nottingham.
Zaheer's spell in the first Test of the 2003-04 tour Down Under instilled belief that India could take on Australia's might.
Bangladesh were 219 for one in the second essay. Enter Zaheer and they collapsed to 312 all-out, leaving India a two-run target.
This spell helped India soar to the pinnacle of the Test rankings. Kumar Sangakkara battled hard to save the Test, but Zaheer's fifer ensured India sealed the deal.
Graeme Smith (Dismissed 14 times)
Zaheer tormented the former South African skipper, accounting for his wicket in 14 out of 27 encounters.
Kumar Sangakkara (Dismissed 11 times)
Sangakkara signed off from international cricket by naming Zaheer as one of his nemeses. The statistics back that statement.
Sanath Jayasuriya (Dismissed 10 times)
Jayasuriya frequently destroyed the Indian attack in the 1990s, but Zaheer managed to curb the attacking batsman in the following decade.
Matthew Hayden (Dismissed 10 times)
India often turned to the guile of Zaheer to counter the might of Hayden. The left-armer emerged victorious on numerous occasions.
Note: Dismissals across all formats: Tests, ODIs and T20Is