Irfan Pathan bid adieu to his professional career that spread across two decades as he announced his retirement from all formats of the game. The left-hander stood as India’s hope for filling the gap of an all-rounder role in the mid-2000s. Irfan carried on his career as a strike bowler and a batsman who can step into any role offered. The Baroda all-rounder created many records in his career from being the only bowler to take a hat-trick in the first over of a Test to picking up a 5-wicket haul in his last ODI.
Here we look at five lesser-known records held by Irfan Pathan in his career:
1. Opening with the bat and ball in the same game for India in all formats
Irfan was always in line to make a contribution with the bat – be it while batting in the lower order, batting at No.3 or even while opening the innings. Even on the few instances when Irfan opened the batting, he did took the new ball when India bowled. Irfan opened the batting and opened the bowling at least once in the same Test on three instances.
In the 2005 Delhi Test against Sri Lanka, Irfan was promoted to open as a night watchman. In the 2nd innings of the 2006 Mumbai Test, the all-rounder was sent to face the England bowlers as regular opener Virender Sehwag was injured. Later in the 2008 Adelaide Test, Irfan played as an opener in both innings alongside Sehwag. He recorded such feat in the 2005 Kolkata ODI where he walked to bat along with Sachin Tendulkar.
Pathan opened batting and bowling during the 2012 WT20 match against England making him the first Indian with this feat in a T20I game. In that very game, Irfan Pathan also recorded a rare feat of opening the batting and bowling in the same match at least once in all three formats of International Cricket. Till date, only Mohammad Hafeez, Irfan Pathan and Tillakaratne Dilshan have recorded this feat.
2. Only player to take a 9-wicket haul in Youth ODI cricket
One of the major reasons for Irfan Pathan getting fast-tracked into the Indian team was his exploits with the ball at the Under-19 level. The left-arm pacer was in his teens when he made his Test debut on 2003/04 Australian tour. Irfan’s International debut for senior team happened in less than two months after the Under-19s Asia Cup where he was adjudged as the Man of the tournament. Irfan finished that tournament with 18 wickets in four matches at an impressive average of 7.38.
India U19s won the title by defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Lahore where he took three crucial wickets. The highlight of his U19 career came in the game before the final when they faced Bangladesh team. India crawled to 223 in a must-win match after a top-order collapse. Pathan, who picked up six wickets across first two matches, struck in the very first over of Bangladesh chase. VRV Singh, who was the other opening bowler, took the 4th wicket of the innings in his 3rd over.
By that time, Bangladesh were 16/4 and soon were reduced to 22/7 by the 11th over as Irfan took at least one wicket in five of his first six overs. In his 8th over, Irfan dismissed the opposition’s No.9, 10, 11 batters to complete a hat-trick. Irfan wrapped up the game and finished with bowling figures of 7.5-3-16-9 with the hat-trick. Irfan Pathan stands as the only player with a 9-wicket haul in a Youth ODI till date. Australia’s Lloyd Pope came close with 8/35 against England in the 2018 U19 CWC Quarters.
3. First Indian to take a 4-wicket haul in Twenty20 history
The Twenty20 format was included into Indian domestic cricket in mid-2007 after Indian national side made its T20I debut. However, Irfan was one of the five players with an experience of playing the T20 cricket prior to India’s first-ever T20I XI which played against South Africa in 2006. Irfan Pathan made his T20 debut while playing for Middlesex during the 2005 English T20 Cup. In the 6th game of the season, Middlesex faced Essex at the John Walker’s Ground in Southgate.
Irfan’s unbeaten 7-ball 21 with two sixes helped Middlesex finish on 185/6. The pacer made the ball talk by taking a wicket in the very first over as he dismissed Sir Alastair Cook, who was making his T20 debut in that match. In the following over, the other opener and Essex’s captain Ronnie Irani was cleaned up by the then 20-year-old Indian bowler. Ravi Bopara, the No.3 batsman of Essex couldn’t last till the end of the powerplay as he was trapped in front by the left-arm pacer.
In his final over of the match, Pathan dismissed Andre Adams and finished with figures of 4-0-27-4. With that, Irfan Pathan became the first Indian to take a 4-wicket haul in the T20 format. Left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi, son of a former Indian left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi, also took 4/27 in the game played at the same time. Doshi played for Surrey at The Oval against Kent in a match which was reduced to 15 overs per team. This meant Nayan achieved it after Irfan if assumed all matches started at the same time.
4. Best T20 bowling figures while leading the team by an Indian
Irfan Pathan’s last whirl came in the 2015/16 season when he led the Baroda team in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. Pathan put up impressive performances with both bat and ball as Baroda finished the tournament as runners-up after losing the final against Uttar Pradesh. Irfan aggregated 200 runs across 10 innings at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 152.67, the highest for his team.
With the ball, Pathan bagged 17 wickets at a strike rate of 12.9 picking up a 5-wicket haul and a 4-fer. The left-arm pacer impressed one and all with his swing mastery with the ball during the tournament. He took 5/13 in the match against Assam which turned out to be his only 5-fer in the T20 format. Thus, Irfan Pathan became only the 4th Indian player to take a T20 5-wicket haul as captain.
Pathan’s bowling figures of 5/13 are the best among those four analyses. Sanjay Bangar held the record for nearly 9 years as he took 5/16 while playing for Railways in 2007 against Rajasthan. In the overall list, Pathan’s 4-0-13-5 finds the 7th position. Colin Ackermann, who became the first player to take a 7-wicket haul last year’s T20 Blast, achieved it while leading Leicestershire.
5. Hat-trick for India Under-15s
No cricketing discussion of Irfan Pathan ends without a mention of his Test hat-trick against Pakistan in the 2006 Karachi Test. With that hat-trick, the left-arm seamer became the first player to claim a hat-trick in the very first over of a Test match. No other player has replicated that feat in the 14 years since then. However, that wasn’t the only hat-trick Irfan picked up while representing India.
Representing the Indian team during the 2000 Under-15s Asia Cup, Irfan recorded an all-bowled hat-trick in the game against Thailand Under-19s. Indian team posted a big total of 272/9 in their 40 overs. The Thailand team were reduced to 26/8 when Irfan struck with the 2nd ball he bowled. He came in as 3rd change bowler in the 16th over of the innings.
He cleaned up Arujun Kumar who scored 11 runs and the only player in the Thai line-up to reach double digits. On the next two balls, the No.10 and No.11 batsmen P Dubey and Pankaj Kumar were dismissed bowled by Irfan Pathan to complete a hat-trick. With that, India sealed a 246-run win and Pathan’s spell read 0.4-0-2-3. (Note: Numbers of age level matches doesn’t get included in professional stats)
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