India vs Sri Lanka final: Zaheer Khan starts brilliantly, but loses plot in the end

first_imgHe had almost exorcised the ghost of his faltering start at the 2003 World Cup summit clash with a splendid beginning today against Sri Lanka, but ‘rhythm’ deserted Zaheer Khan in his last spell, which hurt India’s cause quite hard, yet again at the big stage.The complexion of the match and statistics of Zaheer changed drastically in the last five over when Sri Lanka opted for final batting powerplay.Zaheer, who has done exceedingly well in this World Cup, had conceded just 16 in his first seven overs but when he came to bowl at the death, the old follies resurfaced and his bowling was ripped apart.He was slammed for 17 runs in his ninth over by centurion Mahela Jayawardene and Nuwan Kulasekara, who swung the left-arm bowler over mid-wicket for a six before being dismissed off the last ball of the same over.Later, in final over, Zaheer was again carted for 18 runs, mainly by the bludgeoning blade of lower-order batsman Tissara Perera and after a very impressive beginning, the Indian bowling spearhead had to return with poor figures of 2 for 60.As a result, Sri Lanka, which was struggling at 211 for five after 45 overs, went on to score a challenging 274 for six in the end.Eight years ago in the Bull Ring of the Wanderers’ Stadium in South Africa, a nervous Zaheer’s first over cost India 15 runs and Australia never looked back from that flying start provided by the left arm paceman.The first over eight years ago included a spate of no-balls and wides against the great Australian pair of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden and India’s rivals rode on that disastrous over and captain Ricky Ponting’s pulverising 121-ball knock of 140 to make an imposing 359 for 2. Zaheer ended up with none for 67 in only seven overs.advertisementIndia went on to lose that contest, only their second entry into the tournament’s grand finale till then, by 125 runs.This was in sharp contrast to today’s splendid beginning by the left-arm pace spearhead, who went into the match with 19 wickets under his belt – two less than topper and Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi in the tournament – against Sri Lanka.He not only bowled three maiden overs, but also picked up the wicket of left-handed Lanka opener Upul Tharanga before conceding his first run of the match. His first spell read a superb 5-3-6-1 and he conceded his first run off the 20th ball he delivered.Zaheer was plagued by injuries and even lost his place in the Indian squad after the 2003 final before storming his way back into it after a stint with Worcestershire in the English county circuit.Since then the 32-year-old bowler, who has grabbed an identical 271 wickets in both Tests and ODIs, has been absolutely superb with the ball and the leader of the fast bowling pack.– With PTI inputslast_img

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