The Rise and Fall of Pathans
Posted on: 26 Dec 2010
It is more than a family affair when the two Pathans of Baroda lurk around a cricket field in a blue coloured jersey. It is more than a 'pride personified' of a father who dreamt about his two sons joining hands in every given moment to pull India out of trouble.
Well, the country has to wait a bit longer, say the men who matter. Irfan, the younger and perhaps the more talented of the two, once again fails to convince them that he is ready to take on the burdens of a specific role in the scheme of things. Can't blame the selectors, for sure.
Could Irfan have made it to the 30-member squad, had he not been suffering from a stress fracture? Let us be optimistic about that. At twenty-six, the Kings XI all--rounder seems to be absolutely confident of the chances he possesses for a national recall. The credentials would not betray him. It was the credibility that has been found wanting in the last couple of years.
Irfan's career has been filled with question marks. In the beginning he threw in a variety of questions with a red cherry and not many had conclusive answers. His initial bursts with a new ball, especially against the right handed batsmen, were awesome. The consequent deterioration too was nothing short of overwhelming and he was at the receiving end of all the interrogations.
The deserted swing worried the drawing rooms across the country as much as it did in the Indian dressing room.
Yousuf, on the other hand, had to play the waiting game after an inauspicious debut at Johannesburg in the final of the inaugural T20 World cup. He admittedly is a man for the shorter format alone. Though he has been a regular in the LOIs, he was not ntirely out of the clouds until that blitzkrieg stunned the Kiwis at Bengaluru. Now he has extended his claims for the No: 7 spot almost comprehensively, indirectly sealing the chances of the younger sibling. May be, Indian cricket and its luxurious top order can not afford to have two Pathans together in its eleven!
Initially Yousuf did struggle to transform his IPL heroics and his stature as a hard hitter to the international arena. To be fair, he did not get enough opportunities to prove his mettle with the willow, primarily because of the position he held in the top-heavy batting order. Many a time the big stars hijacked the show and on other occasions either it was too late or he got out early. It was in Nagpur, against the Englishmen that he played his first sizeable One-day innings with an unbeaten fifty which had a couple of trademark hits over the fence. The surge in the last two overs was the testimony of his colossal hitting prowess.
The competence in the bowling has had its limitations all the way through and it is hard to brand him a true all-rounder in the Irfan mould. Indian cricket can boast of a few who can be as effective, if not more. 29 wickets in 42 matches at 36 would not put the cat among the pigeons if you were the opposition batsmen. So he had to do it with his bat like a top-order batsman.
India's T20 cricket has not been great ever since the first World cup triumph; hence not an altogether surprise to see the ordinary numbers tagged with his career facts. He played his second match after a wide gap of 16 months after his debut. Though the score card shows twenty odd runs, it was one of the remarkable wins that India had managed to pull out from a
seemingly hopeless situation. Though it was Yousuf who started the process, eventually it was the younger who did the finishing acts. What went wrong with Irfan? Was he a prey of over anticipation? The composure that he showed in his early career was indicative of a great cricketer in making. If he was considered a natural inheritor to Kapildev, it was not with out ample reasons. May be, the system and the administration drove him towards that a bit faster and the youngster stumbled in his mission.
One thing that hinders his desired come back, is the fact that there is not enough proof for his hunger. To add to the woes, his Premier League appearances too weren't extraordinary. The last first class season has his name in the twelfth place in the top wicket-taker's list as lesser talents worked their way through to the top. Talent can be a factor for recognition. That alone wouldn't ensure a place at the top. The only thing that can bring this cricketer back is his self belief and thankfully there is no dearth in that aspect. The moment he regains his command on a cricket ball, he would be back in action.
The sooner it happens, better it is for himself and for Indian cricket.