Another star that the Millenials grew up watching, has announced his retirement from all forms of the game- Irfan Pathan. Once referred to be the next big thing in Indian and World cricket, Pathan’s career was a tale of two contrasting halves.
The first half saw him bamboozle attacks for fun, win games for India with both the bat and the ball while the second half was all about managing his fitness, waiting patiently for his chance that never arrived. Irfan played his last International game for Team India at the age of 28. His last ODI saw him notch up a five-wicket haul. He is the only bowler with the most number of ODI wickets (173) who never got to play a World Cup game.
Yet Irfan Pathan gave us so many immortal moments in his stop-start career that it is impossible to think – ‘What could have been’? That said, this article is all about going down memory lane and reminisce the ‘once in a generation’ talent that was Irfan Pathan.
Here’s a look at five of his greatest moments:
5. Bamboozling Adam Gilchrist’s stumps in his debut series (2003-04)
“Bowled him!!! What a ripper!! That was the one they needed. He went over the wicket and has got him. Pathan has provided the breakthrough that might well just win the game for India.” – These immortal words of Bill Lawry will always echo in the minds of Irfan Pathan’s fans.
Sydney Test 2004. India, on the back of a 241 from Sachin Tendulkar and a 178 from VVS Laxman, had posted 705 in their first innings and needed to get Australia out cheaply to push for a victory. They had managed to get past the top 6 but still needed to dismiss the ever-so dangerous Adam Gilchrist.
Irfan ran in, bowled a virtual unplayable inswinging yorker, one that not only left Gilly gobsmacked but also proceeded to bamboozle his stumps. That delivery by Pathan was in a nutshell, the amount of precocious talent he had at his disposal when he initially burst on the scene.
4. Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan winning a T20I for India against SL in 2009
Irfan and his brother Yusuf had played for India before that historic day in 2009. They had featured and rejoiced in a plethora of Indian cricket triumphs, including the 2007 T20 World Cup final against Pakistan where Yusuf made his debut.
But never before February 10, 2009, had the two brothers batted together and pull off a sensational heist for their country. Feb 10, 2,009 turned out to be that red-lettered day. After having won the ODI series 4-1, Team India looked to be staring down the barrel when they were reduced to 7-115 in their chase of 175 in the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka.
The cream of the batting-unit had been dismissed and Sri Lanka thought that they could get one over India. Enter the ‘brothers of destruction’ Irfan and Yusuf Pathan. The duo proceeded to annihilate the Sri Lankan bowling unit to the tune of 60 runs in the next 25 balls. Irfan scored a whirlwind 16-ball 33 while Yusuf racked up a 10-ball 22 to help India pull-off a miraculous win.
3. Test hat-trick vs Pakistan, Karachi 2006
India vs Pakistan. The Test series is locked at 0-0 after two mundane draws in Lahore and Faisalabad. Both sides are desperate for a win in Karachi to seal the Test series. Pakistan wins the all-important toss and decides to bat first. Their batting unit has been in swashbuckling form; India needs their bowlers to step-up. India needs Irfan Pathan to step-up.
And, boy didn’t he just do that? The left-handed swing bowler not only sees off opener Salman Butt with a beautiful outswinger but also proceeded to nail Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf with a couple of inswingers on successive deliveries, and all of a sudden Pakistan are 0-3 in the first over.
Irfan Pathan, not only became the first Indian pacer to claim a Test match hattrick but also the first-ever bowler to do so in the opening over of a Test match.
2. Match winning performance (3-16) vs Pak, T20 WC 2007 final
There was something about Pakistan that always used to bring the best out of Irfan Pathan. Whether it was the 2004 and 2006 series or the T20 World Cup in 2007. People talk about Gautam Gambhir’s knock, RP Singh‘s early wickets, MS Dhoni’s captaincy and of-course Joginder Sharma’s last over heroics.
But, often they forget to acknowledge the contribution of Irfan Pathan in the middle-overs of that tense final. Pathan was the one who landed body blows to Pakistan during the middle-overs when he got rid of the in-form Shoaib Malik, the ever-so dangerous Shahid Afridi, and dangerous-looking Yasir Arafat.
His figures of 3/16 ultimately turned out to be the difference in the end and the southpaw was duly acknowledged for his efforts when he was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’.
1. Match winning performance with bat and ball in Perth Test 2008
The Sydney Test had ended with a plethora of controversy. The umpiring howlers followed by a ban on Harbhajan Singh courtesy the ‘Monkeygate scandal’ had left a bad taste. India was determined to turn it around at the W.A.C.A. The Aussies, on the other hand, thought that they would just turn up and bamboozle the Indians on the fastest track in the world.
But, they had little idea of what they were up against. The whole Indian team was determined as hell to give the Aussies a taste of their medicine. Irfan Pathan, who had made his debut on Australian soil five years ago, was determined to win a game for his country Down Under.
And, he did that with both bat and ball. Not only did the southpaw scored crucial 28 and 46 runs (while batting at No.3), he also proceeded to bamboozle the Aussie batters with high-quality swing bowling as he claimed 5/117 across the two things to help Team India script a historic 72-run-win and break Australia’s 16-match winning streak. Pathan has duly adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’ for his all-round performance in what turned out to be the penultimate Test of his career.
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