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An iffy day but Pathan gets a pat

Pathan, who wasn't able to exploit his natural ability to swing the ball in to a right-hander, got the ball to move, reports Amol Karhadkar.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 00:14 IST

When Rahul Dravid handed the ball to Irfan Pathan in the 11th over of the day, a huge roar came from the stands. The people of Vadodara had been waiting to see one of their own back in India colours.

And with the crowd backing him, the 22-year-old, who was sent back from South Africa almost a month back to regain his form by playing in domestic cricket, was keen to make an impression on the team management and selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar, who was watching him from the sidelines.

The figures of 7-0-43-1, the spell he bowled, do not really impress. However, they are not really a true reflection of his stint on the day either. Despite bowling as a first-change bowler, Pathan, who wasn’t able to exploit his natural ability to swing the ball in to a right-hander, got the ball to move. And he bowled at a fuller length, which augurs well for him.

However, since West Indies were chasing a huge target, he was targetted by the Windies batsmen and they were successful in their mission, with Marlon Samuels even hitting him for a straight six — incidentally the only six in the West Indies innings.

Yet, Pathan should be pretty pleased with the fact that he at least ended with a wicket. Though Yuvraj Singh took an outstanding catch to dismiss Devon Smith, Pathan’s only scalp, a wicket is after all a wicket and it does a world of good for a bowler’s confidence.

He would also be happy that his skipper seemed satisfied with his performance. “I thought he bowled quite well,” Dravid said. “He bowled in some good areas. When he pitched it right he created a few problems,” said Dravid.

But is this one outing enough to judge whether Pathan fits into the World Cup squad? While chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar “did not want to comment”, Dravid said, “He (Pathan) has to get some more international bowling under his belt before we can make any judgment but the start was a good one.”

The story is as yet open-ended.

Munaf to play practice tie

Munaf Patel, who is recuperating from an ankle injury, will be tested in a practice match ahead of selecting the team for the first two one-dayers against Sri Lanka.

The Board secretary Niranjan Shah said on Wednesday that Munaf would see BCCI’s medical advisor Dr Anant Joshi after the match on Thursday.

Shah also said that the selection committee would meet in Mumbai on February 3 to name the squad for the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka and then on February 12 to select the squad for the World Cup and the remaining ODIs against Sri Lanka.

‘Exceptional’ Yuvraj

Yuvraj Singh made his comeback to international cricket after recovering from a freak injury in Chennai four days ago. And though he didn’t appear to be moving cautiously in Chennai, he put all doubts about his recovery to rest with an electrifying performance in the field in Vadodara, including an astounding catch.

Dravid was elated with Yuvraj’s performance. “He was exceptional, wasn’t he?” he said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to see. One of the reasons to play Yuvraj was to see performances like this.”

amol.karhadkar@hindustantimes.com