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Pathan has more tricks up his sleeves

India's new bowling find Irfan Pathan has a few more tricks up his sleeves which he plans to "showcase" in the finals of VB series.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2004 03:22 IST
Ashish Shukla (PTI)
Ashish Shukla (PTI)

India's new bowling find Irfan Pathan has a few more tricks up his sleeves which he plans to "showcase" in the finals of the triangular cricket series.

"I am working on a few things and will showcase them in next few games," revealed Pathan as the tri-series builds to a climax in the coming week.

"I have done well but I am not satisfied and want to do better for the team in the future," the bowler said in an interview here.

Pathan's profile has undergone a sea change from a bench bowler to donning the mantle of India's strike bowler on the present tour.

Ever since he was told of his baptism an hour before the start of the Adelaide Test, Pathan has improved so much so that captain Sourav Ganguly is entrusting him with the new ball and asking him to shoulder the responsibility in the final overs of the innings.

"When a captain shows his support, it means a world of difference to my confidence," said Pathan.

Pathan's first wicket came in his third over in the form of Matthew Hayden and then in Sydney, he clean bowled Adam Gilchrist with a swinging yorker and since then he has scalped the dreaded Australian left-handers in the one-day series as well.

Indeed, Pathan had a fascinating duel with Hayden in Brisbane, watching him dropped at long on in one of his over and then claiming him via a catch to wicketkeeper two deliveries later.

Hayden was taunting him and just a delivery before he was out, had smacked a hard drive straight on to Pathan's ankle.

"It hit me hard but I didn't even touch my ankle. He was taunting me but I just wanted to get his wicket. It was doubly satisfying when I got him because he had been dropped earlier and was already well past his hundred."

Along with wickets, Pathan has shown a remarkable increase in his pace and has no doubt it would keep growing in days to come.

"I have no doubt my pace would grow. I started with 131kmph but in Brisbane I was touching 140. As my rhythm gets better, the pace would increase.

"At present my strength is swing, especially the outgoing swing which troubles left-hander and which is incoming to right-handers."

Pathan remembers many faces and voices which encouraged him at various stages of his still nascent career.

"I remember the first time I went to MRF I learnt the little nuances of bowling. I learnt the importance of my right hand and what it could do to my bowling. I started building strength in gym and when I returned, my own people could not recognise me so strong had I become."

"Playing for Baroda meant I got to interact with Zaheer Khan a lot. He has been a great help, always helping me out and boosting my confidence," Pathan said.

"I remember in my first year when I was playing the Ranji Trophy finals, I was copping a lot of stick from batsmen and he kept saying 'keep your chin up, keep your head high' don't show it to batsmen'.

"Zaheer also advised me to plant my leg straight in line of the stumps, earlier I was letting myself run close to the danger area all the time. He told me how to transfer my body weight and many other finer things."

"Then in my first Irani Trophy, VVS Laxman, who remains my favourite cricketer and person, came over to me after he had hit a hundred and the game was over. He asked me to look after my bowling and batting. He asked me to look for bowling tips from Zaheer all the time.

"People like Sachin, Rahul and Sourav - they have always been so supportive. I remember Sachin telling Sourav to bring me on in Sydney and me going out and taking the wickets of Steve Waugh and Gilchrist. His mere words meant so much and proved to be very encouraging."

Pathan, whose association with the legendary Wasim Akram has generated a controversy in Pakistan, admitted that the Sultan of Swing had been extremely supportive throughout.

"Wasim bhai is an idol and I am very grateful to him. Whenever I have approached him, he has not turned me away."

The young left-arm bowler was also appreciative of the services of bowling coach Bruce Reid.

"Reid has kept emphasising to me to rely on rhythm. Whenever I try to go beyond myself, he keeps saying 'maintain rhythm. Don't get your action across'.

"I now feel nothing is more important than maintaining a rhythm. It doesn't matter who you are bowling to as long as you are able to sustain a good rhythm."

It has been a fairytale rise for the young Baroda paceman, getting picked early and then given the exposure through various under-19, India 'A' and youth tours.

Luck has played no mean factor itself since he was way down the list of fast bowlers, certainly behind Zaheer, Ashish Nehra, Avishkar Salvi, Laxmipathy Balaji and Ajit Agarkar, before injuries to others provided him with a chance and he has not looked back thereafter.

First Published: Jan 27, 2004 15:23 IST