There was a time when Irfan Pathan was India’s best fast-bowler. He won the ICC emerging player’s award in 2004. Pathan had the ability to swing the bowl both ways, and this was his biggest weapon. During his early days, Pathan was lethal with the new ball. Who can forget that Test match against Pakistan, where he took a hat-trick in the very first over of the day. Pathan’s success tempted media to start comparisons with the great Wasim Akram. And even Wasim Akram was all praise for him.
It was all going very well for Pathan until Greg Chappell tried to convert him into an all-rounder. Chappell saw that Pathan could also bat, started concentrating on ameliorating his batting skills. Initially, worked charms for Irfan, as he replaced Virender Sehwag in the Test series against Sri Lanka, where he opened the batting and scored 4 fifties in 5 innings. Suddenly, Irfan Pathan became the all-rounder India were looking for. Media and fans started comparing him to Kapil Dev and talks about India finally getting their much awaited all-rounder were all over the media. Chappell experimented a lot with Pathan and wanted him to play a genuine all-rounder like Jacques Kallis and Shane Watson.
But, it didn’t happen. In the pursuit of being a genuine all-rounder, Pathan began to lose his pace and swing. Due to a poor form, he was dropped from the team in 2006 . But, he made a comeback in 2007 T20 World Cup, as seniors opted themselves out. Irfan bowled well in that tournament. On the back of some good performances in the T20 World Cup, Pathan made a comeback to the ODI side for the series against Australia. But, his lacklustre bowling couldn’t make an impact and he was dropped again.
After this, due to some injury problems and deteriorating form. Pathan had to stay away from international cricket for a very long time.
After a long gap and some good Ranji Trophy and IPL performances, Pathan again made a comeback to the national side in December 2011 against West Indies, where Virender Sehwag was the stand in captain. Pathan bowled well in this series, and he was selected for the CWB series in 2012 and also for the Asia Cup, where he again bowled well and his self-belief was coming back. He became the highest wicket taker in the series against Sri Lanka in 2012, and he also took a 5 wicket haul. He was selected for the ICC T20 WC 2012. He also scored 3 domestic century in the same year.
All was going well for Pathan but a knee injury forced interrupted his momentum. Injury made him stay away from international cricket, and since then, Pathan is struggling to make a comeback.
With the World Cup 2015 just around the corner, the question arises is- Can Irfan Pathan make a comeback?
Irfan Pathan has shown signs of improvement. He is working hard on his fitness at the NCA. His in-swing that used to his most lethal weapon against batsmen, is coming back. But, he’s very little time to prove his worth as the preparation for the big World Cup has reached its last stage.
Although, a fit and performing Irfan Pathan would have added great balance to the side, but considering the time left and also Team India’s playing all-rounders (Jadeja, Ashwin and Binny),there’s no chance that Irfan Pathan can make a comeback to the national side, specially for the World Cup,
by Archit Athani