This column comes with a touch of sadness, because itís always tough to say adios to special players. Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have been champions in their own right. They have given us so much joy over the years. But maybe itís time to write their swan song.
Zaheer Khan first. By omitting him from the 18-member squad for the upcoming five Tests in England, the national selectors have given a message that they want to roll over the old and usher in the new.
Fitness has always been an issue with Zaheer since he limped out of Lordís, clutching his hamstring, three years ago. The latest setback came during this IPL, when he injured his shoulder and was ruled out of the tournament after six matches. But the report from the medical room was positive and it predicted full recovery before Indiaís first Test at Trent Bridge from July 9. But the selectors were unsure. Also, after two mediocre series in South Africa and New Zealand last winter, they wanted to look beyond the 35-year-old.
Zaheer left no stone unturned to revive his career after he was dropped following a poor home series against England in 2012-13. He went to Brive La Gaillarde, France to train under Tim Exeteróa high performance physical trainer.
The left-arm quick came back leaner and fitter but the old zip was
still missing. He failed to provide breakthroughs during crucial
periods in South Africa and
Zaheer rather looked haggard after every bowling spell. And itís unlikely that heís going to get another opportunity to add to his tally of 311 wickets in 92 Tests and 282 scalps in 200 one-day internationals (ODIs). Very few Indian fast bowler came with his skill-set.
Virender Sehwag last played for India in Test cricket in March 2013. He had already been living on borrowed time and after only 27 runs in the first two Tests in the home series against Australia, came the chop. Ranji Trophy provided him with a platform to resurrect his career, but Sehwag failed miserably with only 234 runs in seven matches at an average of 19.50. Itís very significant that he wasnít even considered for the England tour as Gautam Gambhir was recalled to fill the slot for the reserve opener.
Sehwag, too, is 35 and past his prime. So maybe itís time to say goodbye. Itís sad that someone who redefined