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Kings XI’s Irfantasy

Everyone was talking about brother Yusuf before IPL II. Quietly, the junior Pathan has come up the ranks and played a big role in the survival of Kings XI Punjab so far, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: May 19, 2009 01:09 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

In the world of bubbles that T20 or IPL can sometimes be, players come to the fore by turn. A few good outings bring them under the spotlight for a while before someone else displaces them. There isn’t anything constant about it. Ask Irfan Pathan for confirmation.

Everyone was talking about brother Yusuf before IPL II. Quietly, the junior Pathan has come up the ranks and played a big role in the survival of Kings XI Punjab so far.

“I just wanted to play before the tournament started. I hardly played any international cricket last year because other players were doing well. So, before the IPL and looking ahead to the T20 World Cup, I was praying that I get a chance to play regularly,” Irfan told HT.

After a cameo with the bat against Delhi Daredevils on Friday, he chipped in with the ball on Sunday at the right time to help his team beat Deccan Chargers. Kings XI’s campaign might have been over had Irfan not come up with those runs or wickets.

“When you perform at crucial times, it makes a big difference to your confidence. For me, it’s done a world of good, especially before the T20 World Cup.”

Irfan said that more than his skills as a bowler, his ability to read the batsmen has come in handy in the IPL. “You have to be one step ahead and be able to figure out what he is trying to do. Like I knew Rohit (Sharma) would try to hit a four (on Sunday). So I bowled a slower one. It worked.”

But what would he do with Yusuf at the other end? Will he sense his chance, given that his brother always looks to score? “I will. It’s a question of making sure what my plan is because he goes for his shots.”

Irfan said his successful outing in South Africa doesn’t have much to do with the conditions here. “Before coming here, I was expecting the pitches to offer more carry. But because it’s the end of the season here, the pitches have become slower. There isn’t much swing either. The slowness helps a bowler like me at times but I have tried to mix things up and worked on variations.”

It may be end of the road for Irfan and Kings XI Punjab after the next match, if they lose to Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday. Someone else will then become the talking point. Until that happens, Irfan can sit back and enjoy his moment in the sun.