Irfan Pathan – The Comeback of a Spearhead
Plenty of eyes have been on Irfan Pathan ever since he started making inroads to a permanent place in the Indian Team. Today was no different. After losing his banana in-swingers and consequently his place in the Indian side, Irfan has made several comeback attempts. He requested for permission to play England county cricket to help him rediscover himself (I must add here that Rahul Dravid spent 6 months with Kent and he claimed that the stint had helped him ‘rediscover his game’). Irfan has had good domestic seasons over the past couple of years and a good IPL-5 campaign with both bat and ball. But he still didn’t find a place in the team.
One wonders what he should do for the selectors and the board to show a little more faith in him.
But all is never lost, particularly for a man of Irfan’s calibre. The Gods put their trust in the right men. When Vinay Kumar bowed out of the tournament due to an injury, Irfan Pathan came back – for another opportunity to seal his berth. This time though, he has started off on a much better note.
Irfan didn’t have much of a show with his bat today. He came with four balls of the innings to spare. Nevertheless he made good use of them, smashing a boundary on his way to seven. But what his fans loved to watch today was the rhythmic opening spell that drew first blood against the tall Sri Lankan batting order.
Irfan picked up the early wicket – something that characterised him when he was the ‘spearhead of the Indian attack’. He got Dilshan with a peach of an in-swinger that clipped middle and leg. He almost had Sangakkara in the same over with the outside edge flying through the vacant slip cordon. He followed up with a tight maiden against Sangakkara who was forced to shoulder arms to most deliveries. His first spell of six overs went for just 20 runs along with the scalp of Dilshan. There was discipline, control and swing written all over it.
Irfan’s tight spell was followed up well by the Ashwin-led spin attack. They kept things down during the middle overs and chipped in with important wickets at crucial intervals. When Pathan came back for his second spell, the match was already secured but not tightly. There was one obstacle that India had to tackle – in the form of Thisara Perera.
Perera came in when Sri Lanka required 123 runs from 70 balls. Along with Sangakkara, he smashed Ojha’s last over for 15 runs and then took down Zaheer’s last for another 14. There was no sparing Umesh Yadav at the other end – he was smashed for 19 off his two overs. When everyone was spent, Dhoni returned to his best bowler of the day – Irfan Pathan.
He bowled three dot balls in the over and almost got the wicket of Perera when the edge went just out of reach of Dhoni and ran away to the fence. Perera wasn’t spared though. In his next over he holed out to Virat Kohli at long-on. It ended the fading hopes of the Lankan and also a splendid spell from Pathan.
Irfan marked his spell with early swing and good line. His 2 overs at the death cost just 11 runs and came with the price of Perera’s wicket. Three fours were hit in all his 10 overs and all three of them came off the outside edge through the slips. On another day, they might have all been wickets. The Pathan fan club witnessed an excellent spell of bowling. All eyes will be on Irfan in this series. If he can put his best foot forward and produce remarkable performances like he did today, then the selectors will have a tough time ignoring him. As always, he is the creator of his own destiny!
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