There was enough to suggest during Yusuf Pathan’s 37-ball blitzkrieg that he is coming up with a method to his batting. He didn’t throw his bat around at the start of his innings, but after a dozen rather sedate balls, everything started to disappear into the stands and beyond.
Has he finally turned the corner? Yusuf still has to prove himself at the international level. He didn’t quite go after Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga the other night, so the query lingers. But I am positive that it will not be long before even the quicks come on his radar.
Everyone knows that he loves hitting down the ground and that his powerful forearms and sledgehammer of a bat can quickly get under the ball. Yet, very few escape becoming cannon fodder.
Let’s survey the field and rate the biggest destroyers of them all. Matthew Hayden’s big hitting still doesn’t come in the way of an opener’s responsibility while Virender Sehwag is a four-hitter and not quite exactly a sixer-man like Yusuf. Sanath Jayasuriya has seen better days while Yuvraj Singh alone has a similar destructive streak.
Then, the wait is on for Kieron Pollard to arrive for the Mumbai Indians.
All of them have variety in their strokes but no one hits straight down the ground in a predictable manner like Yusuf. Yet, he can be unstoppable.
Twenty20 has brought a few unorthodox strokes in vogue. The ‘Dilscoop’, reverse sweeps, chips over fine leg are all seen regularly.
The brutality of Yusuf though has no time for finesse but still his batting is not without basics. Like good batsmen, he quickly sizes up the line and length of a delivery and his hand-eye-coordination is so immaculate that his footwork has no problem in following its dictates.
I have always looked at him as an impact player. He will fail, but he will also win you matches.
Rival captains always worry if Pathan gets going and he occupies a great deal of their mental space. In the process, they run the risk of leaving a few critical areas unattended.