Irfan Pathan's fluent knock in India's second innings of the ongoing third cricket Test has earned him an admirer in former Australia captain Steve Waugh who believes the left-hander has it in him to evolve as an outstanding all-rounder.
Pathan, who came as nightwatchman, survived some torrid times in the middle, during which he was hit twice by Brett Lee bouncers, before unleashing an array of shots in his crucial 46-run knock that steadied the Indian second innings.
Impressed by his application, Waugh said, "Irfan Pathan has the potential to become an outstanding Test match all-rounder.
"The poise he showed to bat throughout the first session yesterday confirmed this," Waugh wrote in his column for The Daily Telegraph.
Waugh also wondered how the left-arm seamer fell out of favour and was dropped from the squad.
"When I first saw him four years ago I marvelled at the way he could swing the ball both ways and it has been surprising to see him dropped because of poor form and only appear for the third Test of the series," he said.
The former captain put forward an explanation himself, saying it was often difficult to maintain a calm head amid the adulation that followed success.
"...It is a recurring problem in India for youngsters such as Pathan to become flooded with rich sponsorships when they hit the big time, become a bit starstruck by it all, then stop doing the little things that got them there in the first place," he said.
According to him, Yuvraj Singh too fell victim to the syndrome.
"Yuvraj Singh is the obvious example. He lost his way after the stardom of hitting six sixes in a Twenty20 match and simply does not look the finished article as an international player," Waugh said.
He felt the stint in the wilderness made Irfan a better player.
"Time out of the side has given Pathan more balance in life and hardened his game," he said.
Waugh also felt that fitness, or rather lack of it, of the senior players had hampered India's progress.
"There was a poignant moment yesterday when youngster Pathan and veteran VVS Laxman were batting together and a quick single was on offer.
"Pathan, very much the new model Indian player taught to scramble for every single, took off while Laxman was leaning on his bat," he said.
"Somehow they made it but it spotlighted the difference between the way things have been and the way they must be if India are to fulfil their potential," he said.
"Laxman and Sourav Ganguly are notorious for falling asleep when they are at the non-striker's end, tactics which can cost you in a Test like this where every run is a gold bar," he said.
Waugh also hailed Brett Lee as a worthy successor to Glenn McGrath as Australia's pace spearhead but also sympathised with slinger Shaun Tait who came a cropper in the ongoing Test.
"Critics may be sharpening their knives for Shaun Tait but it is important Australia do not lose faith in him," he said.