After India's loss to Australia in the opening CB Series tie against Melbourne on Sunday, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the team required a “fast bowling all-rounder”.Cut to the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) ground on Tuesday. On the eve of their tie against Sri Lanka in Perth, Irfan Pathan was running in at full steam during the nets. The way he was engrossed in his bowling and batting drills, it seemed the wait was about to end.
However, immediately after registering their maiden victory of the tri-series, Dhoni was back at it again. “We are still struggling to find a fast-bowling all-rounder,” he said on Wednesday.
Does this mean the team doesn't see Irfan, who has more than once proved during his earlier India stint that he is a reliable batsman and a swing bowler, as a potential all-rounder? Or, does it mean the team management feels Irfan is still not ready for top flight cricket? Or, is it just a ploy to keep Ravindra Jadeja's — it is well known that the captain has a soft corner for him — place in the eleven?
In fact, when the national selection panel persisted with Irfan for the tri-series, they thought he will play a “vital” role in Australian conditions, not to mention his contribution in India winning the tri-series four years ago.
However, the selectors and the team management don't seem to be on the same page on this.
Otherwise, Irfan would have been in the middle when India were making heavy weather of a relatively easy chase.
However, Dhoni didn't write off Irfan's chances, hinting he could get some match time later in the series.
“The last time he played, I was not part of the side. I don't think he got much opportunity to bat, so… We would like to give him a few games and if he gets going the way he used to, it will be good for us,” Dhoni said. “Ideally, he is someone who suits that job really well. He needs to do the batting and bowling again.”
Relaxed & enjoying
Irfan seems to have taken it in his stride. He has been trying to find different ways to relax, which included train rides in Sydney.
During his interaction with the Hindustan Times just before being recalled into the national side, he had stressed the importance of enjoying life to the fullest.
One wonders whether the Baroda player, back in the India set-up after overcoming injury and poor form, will remain as composed as he is now if he is made to wait in the wings for far too long.