Zaheer Khan
Zaheer Khan has left a big void of a left arm fast bowler which is yet to be filled.

Hey there CricGeeks, Remember the 2003 World Cup Final and a young, all-guns-blazing Zaheer Khan getting smashed all over the park in the first over itself? The over was so poor that Zak had to bowl 10 deliveries to complete it!!!! But as a wise man quoted, “ The comeback is always really stronger than the setback!” Cut to 2011, the World Cup final, and Zak bowled the first three overs as a maiden. Well, this very incident defines how big a player Zaheer was. Someone who was always the reliable workhorse. Zaheer was India’s mainstay for over 8 years. In today’s episode of “4 Players….” we have a look at individuals who can replace Zaheer….

Disclaimer: — The names included in this list are in no particular order of ability….at a few times I have commented on the physicality of the individual and my intention is not to body shame…..

4. Chetan Sakariya

I suppose this was the very first name that popped up in my mind when I was planning to write about a young left armer who can deal with pressure. Chetan definitely has what it takes to be a beast. His precise yorkers and smart cutters make him an all in all package for at least the shorter format. Chetan even after fighting the loss of his brother and father in a short span has also shown character. This young gun for Gujarat if remains injury-free and can have his head on the shoulder is meant to go the long way.

In the short interval of the 2021 edition of the IPL, Chetan did not fail to impress……

3. Arshdeep Singh

The Slim Sardar as most of us refer to him, Arsh also has shown his contenders for the spot. A smart, thinking bowler who knows about his game, Arshdeep is more than ready for the long run. Ignoring the fact that he is not the appropriate physical built, a smart bowler is more than handy at crunch situations. If Arsh can somehow put on some muscle,(Not that muscle brings pace but good health will benefit in the longer format) he will become the complete package.

Kings XI as a franchise has always supported local players and this time the move has come off real good!!

2. Khaleel Ahmed

Remember the time before the 2019 World Cup? Ahmed was a front runner for the 15th spot but an injury leading to him missing the 2019 IPL became the spoilsport. Khaleel from the U-19’s itself has shown exceptional growth. Belonging to Rishabh’s batch Khaleel can too be backed!!! A pacer who has got the zing, pace, and can bring the ball into the right-hander Khaleel still is one of the front runners. However, if Khaleel is not backed then I would not shy away to say that genuine supreme talent can go down the drain….Something which happened in the case of Debashish Mohanty or Pankaj Singh!!!

You can see traces of Zak when his ball also leaves the left-hander!!!

1.Thangasaru Natarajan

Natarajan a name that the nation sang all year long in 2020 and a guy who proved his mettle in 2021. T Natarajan is nothing but a prospect of great scouting!! From playing night games in Salem at 200/300 per night this sensation is already a success story. From TNPL(Tamil Nadu Premier League) to the IPL and then to the Gabba Glory this story is one for the ages!!! A bowler who can at any point in time give you an over with 6 consecutive toe-crushing yorkers, what else can a captain ask for? Again if Nattu can work on his physicality and try to get the physique of someone like a U Yadav, he too is made for the long run!! Natarajan currently holds the record for debuting in all three formats in just the same tour….a record which is difficult to replicate!!!

An image that proves to me that the sport is “just” to every individual irrespective of the financial bg.

Again to conclude I would say that replacing Zak is next to impossible. However, if these individuals take it upon them to build their own identity and make themselves a brand….I expect them to achieve the replacement in that journey itself….Cheers!!!