When Zaheer Khan broke through in sensational fashion during the ICC KnockOut Trophy in Nairobi in 2000, it appeared as if India’s quest for an out-and-out fast bowler to support Javagal Srinath had come to an end. The one-time engineering aspirant from Shrirampur in Maharashtra, however, flattered to deceive, taking his time finding his feet at the highest level. Injuries blighted his career at various stages, he had a tendency to slacken on the training and fitness fronts and consequently put on weight quickly, and at various stages, seemed to have frittered away the natural talent bestowed upon him. A stop-start career full of disappointments turned the corner in 2006 when Zaheer played a season of County cricket with Worcestershire. The returns were impressive – he finished with 78 wickets – but more importantly from an Indian cricket perspective, being the overseas pro re-stoked Zaheer’s competitive instincts and instilled him a deep sense of responsibility and belongingness. From then on, Zaheer has carried the Indian attack on his shoulders, both in helpful conditions overseas and in less favourable conditions at home, where he has used reverse swing to devastating effect. The left-arm quick had a major role to play in India’s ascension to the top spot in the ICC Test rankings as he not merely led the attack but also slipped into a mentorship role, taking the young guns under his wings and providing a comforting, direction-lending helping hand. Injuries have continued to stymie his progress, and with the years catching up, the recovery time has gotten longer, but when fit and firing, Zaheer continues to be as dangerous as ever.