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Umesh Yadav has potential to fill my shoes: Zaheer Khan

Mumbai: Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan's retirement from international cricket has got the selectors thinking about who could be the next in line for Zaheer. The man himself feels that at present, speed star Umesh Yadav has the potential to take his place but only after his potential is nurtured and maximized.

The 37-year-old pacer has retired from his 14-year-long international career because of a series of injuries, the latest being a shoulder injury. Zaheer made his India debut in 2000 and was able to play his last game for the country in 2014 against New Zealand at Wellington.

"Umesh is good with pace and the movement he gets. He definitely has got potential and that potential needs to be maximized is what I have been saying," Zaheer told reporters in an interview, after announcing his retirement.

Umesh, who made his debut for India in May 2010 against Zimbabwe, has till date played 15 Tests, picked up 48 wickets. He has also played in 52 One Day Internationals (ODIs), collecting 72 wickets.

"Among the Indian pacers I think, pace is important and balance needs to be maintained. The attack needs to be settled, its a process, you will find the right guys to do the job and right guys who are in the rhythm," he mentioned.

Zaheer Khan has left the stage after playing in 92 Tests and 200 ODIs, recording 282 and 311 wickets respectively. Zaheer has also taken 17 wickets in as many T20 Internationals.

"I think the whole journey has been special, outstanding and cricket has been my life. It is very difficult to pinpoint one incident. Walking away with lot of fond memories, good friendships, so everything has happened to me at the right moment. But I can say winning the 2011 World Cup here was a great moment for me," he said.

He made an announcement about his retirement after a shoulder injury that has put his efforts to return back to action, spanning a 14-year career highlighted by considerable success along with numerous injuries.

"It was the right time for me to call time on my international career, that's how the whole thought process had happened. As I was preparing for the season, I realized that yes in terms of playing at the international level is what I am not looking at now. The realization happened and that was the right time when I decided it is the right time to call it a day," the bowler from Shrirampur, Maharashtra, said.

"Things happen when you have such a long career, injuries happen and we again make a comeback. From that after being dropped (dropped in 2012 after third Test against England at home) I have come out of that situation, is how I look at my career. The fact that I did make my comeback, worked hard, played some domestic games and performed there has always been a process. And I am happy about all things that went for me," he said.

The 37-year-old has a few on-field spats and extra-ordinary dismissals with a number of batsmen from the opposite teams, but the on-field confrontations with former South Africa captain Graeme Smith are a few that most remember.

Zaheer Khan says any batsman who is in form is tough to bowl to and it varied from series to series. If the best of the batsmen are not in-form it is right that as a bowler one should be striving to bag the wicket.

Zaheer said former New Zealand cricketer John Wright and former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten to be the best coaches he has played under.

"John Wright and Gary Kirsten were the best coaches I have played under. They were the ones who got the best out of me during their tenure with the team," he said.

Talking about his time with different captains including Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer said, "I enjoyed bowling under all captains, Ganguly, Dravid, Dhoni. I was happy to get the fields which I wanted all the time as a bowler that’s what you look for. And all the captains share a very good rapport with me and supported my unconventional way of setting field at times. I am very grateful to them."

The left-armer thanked all the people who played a big part in his career adding that he would not have been the person he is today without their support during tough times.

"The list of people to thank is a big one. If one link would have been missing I would not have been standing here and talking to you. They all know that I am grateful to them and thankful to them for their support during crucial stages of my career," Zaheer said.

Photo courtesy: www.zeenewsindia.com

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