Contrary to all predictions, it took three magical deliveries for Pathan to prove himself, writes C Shekhar Luthra.india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 16:08 IST
Too much scrutiny, too many experts! Give them a tiny chance and they discard you like waste paper in the bin.
Well, criticism isn't new to Irfan Pathan. Soon after his successful return from Pakistan two years back, Irfan was the prime target of criticism for his `non-performance' in the next few series - "He has a problem with his run-up"; "He's not fit enough to carry on for long at the highest level" -- TV pundits had a lot to say.
No one was ready to give the Baroda lad half a chance to recover from mental and physical fatigue.
From the time he made his Test debut in Australia at the age of 19, Irfan was considered by many as the most talented swing and seam bowler in India since the legendary Kapil Dev.
His keen interest in learning new tricks made him `different' from other contemporary left-arm seamers. Even on being dropped last year in the home series against Pakistan, Irfan never compromised with instinct.
In the current series, his bowling grip has been in the line of fire. After failing in the first two Tests of the series, there were questions raised once again about his bowling.
In fact, Imran Khan went on to say: "With this kind of grip, he (Irfan) is unlikely to survive for long." Many other `pundits' agreed.
An unfazed Irfan of course didn't pay much attention to all these comments. Rather, he did what was expected of him -- contribute to the all-round success of the team.
If not with the cherry, he made it up with the willow -- a couple of big half centuries as a batsman were there to protect him from harsh criticism, till that magical first over happened at the Karachi Test on Sunday.
Those last three balls of the opening over (which gave him the hat-trick) has put everything to rest, for now.
Says former India all-rounder Madan Lal: "The best thing about Irfan is that he has also been scoring a lot of runs. When you are down, it's very important to keep yourself motivated with other things."
On Imran's criticism, Madan counters: "Even if he has a problem with his grip, it can be sorted out at the nets. The important thing for him is to not lose confidence."