India seamer Zaheer Khan has announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket. He will, however, continue to play in the IPL for one more season.
With 610 international wickets, Zaheer finishes as one of India's most successful bowlers, being the fourth-highest wicket-taker for India across formats. He has the second-highest wickets tally - 311 - for an India seamer in Tests, behind Kapil Dev's 434. Zaheer, though, played few international matches in recent years after being dogged by injuries. An injury he sustained to his bowling arm in May 2014 had put him out of action for a long time, although he managed to play seven games in this year's IPL.
While his final Test was against New Zealand in Wellington early last year, his last ODI was more than three years ago, against Sri Lanka in Pallekele. He ends his international career with 92 Tests, 200 ODIs and 17 T20Is to his name.
In a statement, Zaheer thanked his team-mates in the various sides he played for, and said his greatest moment was winning the World Cup in 2011. "Cricket has been my only life over the past two decades and is in fact the only thing I know well. Cricket has made me the individual that I am, giving me everything in life and much more. I walk away with fantastic memories, life-defining experiences and great friendships. My mother summarised it well in reaction to my decision: "Theek hain, bahut acchha safar tha hamara" (fair enough, I had a wonderful journey).
He traced his journey "as a kid from the small town of Shrirampur (Maharashtra)" to his stint at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore in 1996 and at the MRF Pace Academy to his eventual debut for India in 2000. Referring to a favourite newspaper headline, he hinted at his future plans, saying, "Zak is back' is perhaps a headline that may come my way again as I have every intention of giving back to this game."
Zaheer finishes his Test career with an average of 32.94 and ODI career with 282 wickets at 29.43. After his international debut in 2000, his most prominent performance in Tests came on the England tour of 2007 when he finished with 18 wickets at an average of 20.33. In ODIs, he played a vital role as the leader of the pace attack during India's victorious 2011 World Cup campaign with 21 wickets to finish as the join-highest wicket-taker.
"He feels with a hurt shoulder he cannot bowl at his best for him to perform at international level consistently, so he has decided to call it a day," Zaheer's mentor Sudhir Naik told ESPNcricinfo.
"He served Indian cricket with remarkable passion and commitment," BCCI preisdent Shashank Manohar said in a release. "Being a fast bowler in the Indian sub continent is challenging but he led the bowling attack with distinction and contributed significantly to the success of Indian cricket .I wish him all the best for the future."