The broken dream of Irfan Pathan and his need to reinvent himself in the modern era of Indian cricket
Irfan Pathan is injured. Yet again.
In what is becoming an increasingly frustrating routine for the left-arm bowler/all-rounder, any attempt at making a return to competitive cricket is hampered by one setback or the other.
In the latest development, he has been sidelined for six weeks due to a rib injury, which he sustained while training in Bangalore.
Though it isn’t an injury which could be an issue in the future, it’s frustrating for a player who was recently named in the India A squad for the series against West Indies A. Pathan was also named the captain of India Reds in the Challengers Trophy, a role now given to his half-brother, Yusuf.
Not long ago, just last year, in fact, Irfan was in a good place in his career when he made a comeback to the national stage. He finished as the highest wicket-taker in the ODI series against Sri Lanka in 2012.
After the Greg Chappell era, Irfan Pathan seemed like a spent force. His swing had vanished, his pace had dropped significantly, and with the return of Zaheer Khan, the period of India’s elevation to the top of world ladder coincided with a time of uncertainty and doubt for the man who was once seen as the next Kapil Dev for India.
But in 2011, after help from former MRF coach TA Sekhar, with a better wrist position and a leaner body, Irfan Pathan was the talk of the town after grabbing a couple of 5-wicket hauls in Ranji Trophy.
He was recalled for the last two ODIs against West Indies at home in 2011, and played in the last match of the series. Watching him claim the wickets of the openers in the match was reminiscent of the Irfan of old – a right-hander missing an in-swinger and caught plumb in front of the wicket, followed by a left-hander falling to swing again, edging the ball onto his stumps.
His CB series performances too were indicative of him getting the much required control over his line, and though the banana swing was missing, the subtle movement in the air was enough for him to be useful for the side.