Three Indian Premier League (IPL) appearances is all that Irfan Pathan has to show for in 2016 for Rising Pune Super Giants (RSP) which shows as to how low his star has plummeted. And the fact that the once ‘prodigy’ went wicket less and could only muster a mere nine runs off the bat in those games only adds more concern to the fact. The nadir came in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) when a horrible mix up with skipper MS Dhoni saw Pathan being run out. That game was Pathan’s best chance to shut critics up but then the run-out so gloriously ended any chance of it happening.
RSP later went on to lose the game (thanks to KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir strangulating Dhoni with an ultra-aggressive field setting) and also lost their slim chances for qualification to the play-offs. Though Dhoni copped lots of post game criticism for ‘sacrificing’ Pathan’s wicket but then has the latter been given a raw deal all these years? It may also be remembered that Pathan did not feature in a single game for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) during the 2015 edition of the IPL under Dhoni which gives more weightage to the above statement.
Is this the same player who tormented Australia with some high octane pace and swing during his debut test tour Down Under in 2003? And what about that historic first-over hat-trick against Pakistan in the Karachi Test of 2006 which sent shock waves across the cricketing world? Or even that memorable spell of 3 for 16 in the 2007 World T20 final against Pakistan at Johannesburg which helped India clinch a historic win? Sadly only memories now remain of a career so unfulfilled for Pathan with his glorious past increasingly seeming like a mirage in 2016.
The exuberance of yore has now been replaced by a sullen and jaded figure trying to relive those glory days of old. The pace has long gone and so has the swing. Was it Greg Chappell’s failed efforts (during that dark 2005-2007 era) to ‘convert’ Pathan into a ‘batting all-rounder’ which hampered the latter’s bowling? Or was it sheer loss of passion for the game which knocked Pathan by the wayside? The last time that Pathan wore national colours was during the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka when India failed to make it to the semi-finals.
Though did he pick up five wickets at a good economy rate in that tournament still is it now the end of the road for Pathan in international cricket?
So what lies next for Pathan?
Despite time rapidly running out for him at 31 still it would be interesting to see as to whether Pathan bounces back at least in the T20 format of the sport. Of course a spot in India’s Test and ODI teams would definitely be an anomaly for him in the current scenario but then stranger things have happened in the world of cricket.
Just ask a certain Ashish Nehra who is smiling his way to glory these days!
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)