The residents of Vadodara are avidly waiting to see hometown hero Irfan Pathan make his international comeback on Wednesday, when India take on the West Indies in the fourth and final one-dayer in Vadodara.
And on Monday, the Indian team’s biomechanics expert (cum bowling coach cum assistant coach) Ian Frazer, strongly hinted that Pathan would be in the playing XI.
Pathan, who has had an impossibly poor run this season, was sent back midway through the South Africa series to regain his rhythm by playing domestic cricket. After impressing with the new ball during his three Ranji Trophy games for Baroda, Pathan was selected for the fourth one-dayer.
"Going back to domestic cricket was important for him. He went back and led the attack and again, bowling so many overs will hold him in good stead," Frazer said after the Indian team’s optional nets at the IPCL ground on Monday.
“Whether he’ll be able to translate that into performance out here on Wednesday is something we have to wait and see.”
Despite the damp conditions and a persistent, light drizzle, Pathan ran in hard while bowling and batted effortlessly in the nets. And Frazer was happy with his effort.
“From what I saw this morning, he looks in good shape,” said Frazer. “He looked good. He has lost a bit of weight and looks fresh again. He has bowled 70-odd overs in the last couple of games.”
He said Irfan’s being so out of sorts in South Africa was due to stress. “What was happening was that he was really tense and was not using his natural ability. The closer you stay to your natural way of doing things, the better it will be. If you have done it once in your life, you can do it again.”
However, weather could deprive locals from watching Irfan, and the rest of the Men in Blue from taking on Brian Lara’s men in the series decider. The weather stayed overcast through the day and apart from spoiling the hundreds of wedding processions in the city, the morning’s drizzle had curator Vasudev Patel worried. "Let’s hope that the wicket doesn’t become too damp due to the rain," he said. "Otherwise it’s surely a 275-run strip."
The Indian team was given a day’s break after the Chennai game and the players were told to re-assemble here by Monday evening. However, Robin Uthappa, Pathan and Munaf Patel managed to get in some rigorous training even as skipper Rahul Dravid watched from the sidelines after going through fielding drills with them.
The West Indies camp also had a morning net session, sans Lara and Dwayne Bravo, both of who were expected to arrive by late Monday evening.
Email Amol Karhadkar: amol .firstname.lastname@example.org