Irfan Pathan, who was once hailed as Indiaâ€™s solution for its all-rounder woes, has been thrown a lifeline with a recall into the Indian team for the last two One Day Internationals (ODI) against West Indies after being ignored for nearly three years.
It speaks volumes of this fine left-handerâ€™s determination that despite the snub from selectors, he kept knocking at the doors of Indian cricket with hope. Pathanâ€™s rise and fall is a tragic tale. He was a victim of Indian cricketâ€™s foolhardy acts. Any other cricketer would have hung up his boots or at least blasted those who destroyed him.
Pathan instead decided to let his performance do the talking for him. During his visit to Dubai last year, The Gulf News asked him about his disappointment at being left out of the Indian team and whether he felt anyone was responsible for his downfall. He could only say: â€œI am not lucky but I will keep working hard to get back into the Indian team.â€
Many feel Pathan was a victim of former Indian coach Greg Chappellâ€™s strange â€œexperimentsâ€ which almost destroyed the Indian team. At a time when Pathan was bowling at his best, he was strangely promoted up the batting order to the crucial No 3 slot â€” forcing him to focus on his batting. He was even told to reduce his speed as a bowler, making him lose sting.
Pathan, who looked capable of emerging as a genuine all-rounder after the great Kapil Dev, thus crashed out of the team and so did Chappell as the coach. Imran Khan, during an interview with this newspaper, had once said that Pathan has the talent to become another Wasim Akram.
A series of injuries too followed and Pathan had to bear the sight of many others taking his slot while his elder brother Yousuf Pathan too went on to become a permanent member of the Indian team. â€œI am younger to Yousuf, but I got selected into the Indian team first. Everyone then talked about him only as my brother, but today it is different. He has made his own name and got his own individuality. I am proud to be known as his younger brother,â€ he said during his visit here.
For the record, Pathan played his last ODI on February 8, 2009 while his last Test match was in April the same year. He has, meanwhile, strengthened his bowling and tried to regain his bite as a bowler through tips from former Indian pacer-turned-coach T.A. Sekar. Fortunately, age is still with him. He is only 27 years old and has many years of cricket still left in him. All that he needs is a good spell that can lift his confidence. Surely, the Baroda boy deserves a longer run for all the harm done to his career through mindless experiments.