Cricket is truly a very funny game! You do well, it ensures that you reach the top of the world. Incase you fail, it leaves you gutted and only when you put your heart and soul in the game, you get a shot at redemption!
Redemption……that’s what Irfan Pathan would be thinking when his name was surpisingly announced in the team for the last two one dayers against the Windies. He has been successful in turning the head of the selectors towards him so that his effort does not go unnoticed. In this ranji trophy season, he has picked up 21 wickets from 3 matches and has been handy with the bat as well. Irfan last played an ODI in 2009 before he was shown the door by the selectors and after two years, he is getting a chance to wear the blues again.
At the age of 27, he has had a roller coaster of a life as he has already been a victim of the high’s and low’s of life. He made his debut as a 19 year old teenager in Australia when he bowled a peach of a delivery at 140 km/hr to disturb the timber while Gilchrist was batting. At the end of the tour, he was being hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket. His batting prowess came onto the scene when he was sent up the order in a match against Srilanka, and he returned the faith in his captain by scoring a rapid 83. Comparisons between him and Kapil Dev started coming up, something which was expected by the media! He enjoyed a couple of good seasons with the Indian cricket team which also included a hat-trick against Pakistan. Soon enough, he became an integral part of the team and a force to be reckoned with by the opponents. Then came the downfall.
It all started in 2006 during India’s tour of West Indies. Ironically, it also started the downfall of the team itself. Till then they were enjoying a glorious season at home and away. Things went out of control after this tour which eventually lead to the 2007 World cup debacle. Meanwhile, Irfan seemed to be struggling with his bowling. Always admitting that he was first a bowler and then a batsman, his batting heroics began to hit the papers more frequently than his bowling. At that stage, India desperately needed a good strike bowler. He did play in the 2007 World cup but was dropped after that. He made his comeback in the inaugral T20 world cup and won the Man of the match award in the final of the World cup. But then again, he seemed to be a shadow of his former self, he became inconsistent and was dropped soon after. Since then, he did play a couple of matches here and there with the last one in 2009.
Like I said, it’s Irfan’s chance to redeem himself. The mammoth tour of Australia is next where he is facing some stiff competition from the two newest members of the team-Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. Zaheer and Ishant seem to be certain but a lot depends on their fitness since both have been plagued by injuries. If Irfan can impress the selectors in the upcoming ODI matches, he might just earn himself a first class ticket to down under!