Bengaluru, May 10: Zaheer Khan is the only Indian pacer and also the only left-armerwho has played in two World Cup finals.
On those two occasions -- Johannesburg (March, 2003) and Mumbai (April, 2011) -- it had contrasting results.
It took eight years for the spearhead to bury the ghosts of the Wanderers at Wankhede and he would consider himself lucky to have got an opportunity to do so in one lifetime.
In 2003, Zaheer was only 25 and perhaps too raw to absorb the pressure of a World Cup final. He opened the bowling instead of Javagal Srinath and despite all his aggressive gestures, the left-arm seamer went on to concede 15 runs in the very first over and that gave the mighty Australians the momentum that India could never breach.
Zaheer bowled 10 deliveries to complete that ill-fated over that he bowled to Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. He gave away four no-balls and six wides besides conceding a boundary to Hayden. His legal deliveries did not go for too many runs but the failure to rein in the nerves saw Zaheer going haywire and even his lashing out at the batsmen verbally didn't help. Australia were playing their second consecutive World Cup final after winning all the games while India were back to a territory which they had last experienced two decades ago.
Australia went on to post a mammoth 359 for two in 50 overs with Ricky Ponting (140 not out) and Damien Martyn (88 not out) slaughtering the Indian pacers after Gilchrist (57) and Hayden (37) gave them a robust start. The Indian fast bowling trio of Srinath, Zaheer and Ashish Nehra were hit all over the park with Zaheer finishing with the figures of 67 off seven overs with no wicket (economy rate of above 9.50). Australia went on to win the game by 125 runs.
Eight years later, Zaheer was 33 and with over 550 international wickets under his belt then, was a seasoned pro. He bowled well throughout the 2011 World Cup and in the final, his opening burst had pushed the Sri Lankans back.
In sharp contrast to the 2003 final, Zaheer bowled three maiden overs and picked Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga for three before conceding his first run. His first spell in the game read 5-3-6-1, a figure enough to convey how much he had learnt from the lesson in 2003. Zaheer had made his way back into the Indian squad after getting dropped from the national side after the 2003 final. He fought injuries and got into the shape following a stint in county cricket.
Zaheer went for some runs towards the end of his spell and ended up with the figures of 10-3-60-2 with Chamara Kapugedera being his second scalp. Sri Lanka rode on the century of Mahela Jayawardene to score 274 for six but it could not stop India from winning their second title.