Pathan, back for the future
With Monday's match-winning performance, the left-armer could not have chosen a bigger and better platform to celebrate his recall to the national side.cricket Updated: Sep 25, 2007 13:53 IST
From being the most talented Indian bowler since Kapil Dev to being dumped into wilderness after his form and skills deserted him, Irfan Pathan has seen it all in the span of a short international career.
Back into the Indian one-day squad for the forthcoming home series against world champions Australia, the left-armer could not have chosen a bigger and better platform to celebrate his recall to the national side.
A score of 157 in a format like the Twenty20 could, at best, have been termed competitive, but it seemed to pale when placed against the big-hitters in Pakistan's ranks.
The setting at the Wanderers required the 22-year-old to put his hand up once again, something he had got accustomed to doing with unfailing regularity not very long ago, and the muezzin's son delivered what was expected of him on Monday.
Required to come out fast and furious, Pathan built on Rudra Pratap Singh's (3-26) early burst and kept up the pressure with three crucial blows in the middle overs.
His first victim was the dangerous Shoaib Malik. Capable of turning around the match around single-handedly, getting the skipper before he inflicted damage was crucial to India's hopes. Pathan pitched it short of a good length outside the off-stump, which Malik pulled but only managed to hole out to mid-wicket.
But the wicket, which probably tipped the scales in India's favour was that of the explosive Shahid Afridi. Going for a bit hit to a fullish delivery outside off, the temperamental Afridi failed to clear the man at mid-off and holed out.
Bowling with excellent variation and control, Pathan's final victim was fast-bowler Yasir Arafat, who was castled going for a big one.
The relief was written all over as Pathan remarked "It's a great feeling for me and my side. I was under pressure but I held my nerve. The pitch was on the slower side and I had to mix my deliveries and pace."
Asked what was going through his mind and his teammates, he said "Just pressure. But we played as a team and deserved this moment."