Former India pacer Zaheer Khan has been awarded Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, by the Government of India. The veteran pacer played 92 Tests, 200 ODIs and 17 T20Is in a career that spanned for almost 18 years.
Zaheer was fast-tracked into the national team soon after his debut in domestic cricket. The left-arm pacer made his Test and ODI debut in 2000 and was also a part of the playing XI in India’s first-ever T20I in 2006. The 41-year-old scalped 311 wickets in the longest format and is currently sitting at the fifth spot in the list of most wickets for India. With 269 wickets in ODIs, he comes next to Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar.
The joint highest wicket-taker in 2011 World Cup with 21 scalps, Zaheer played a key role in India’s title victory.
Although he became an irregular member of the team after the tournament and played his last ODI in 2012. His last Test appearance came against New Zealand in 2014.
He announced retirement from international cricket in October 2015 and also gave a farewell speech following the India-South Africa ODI at Wankhede Stadium.
Zaheer continued to play IPL as captain-cum-mentor for Delhi Daredevils and retired from the T20 league after the end of his three-year contract with the franchise. Ahead of IPL 2019, he joined Mumbai Indians as their Director of Cricket.
In 2017, he was also appointed as Team India’s bowling consultant but BCCI soon named Bharat Arun as full-time bowling coach. Rated as one of the best fast bowlers to have played the game, Zaheer was the mainstay of India’s bowling for long.
Apart from Zaheer, shuttler PV Sindhu and pugilist Mary Kom have been conferred with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, respectively. India women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal was also awarded Padma Shri. Shooter Jitu Rai will also be honoured with Padma Shri.