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Is Yusuf Pathan's selection affecting KKR's chances?

Yusuf Pathan's form is a major concern for KKR and they'd do well to drop him from the playing XI.

Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan has struggled for form since signing for KKR in 2011

There are some days when the sun rises in the east. On others, Yusuf Pathan scores IPL centuries. Or half centuries.

At the beginning of IPL season 7, Yusuf Pathan had said that he’d like to play a special innings in the tournament which he can dedicate to his newborn baby. Seven matches later, his scores read 4, 11, 0, 3, 41 and 0 (he was dropped for the fifth match). Forget that special innings, Pathan has hardly contributed to the team’s interest.

Hailed as an unusual talent among a plethora of mediocrity, Yusuf Pathan’s ascent to stardom has been remarkably swift and astonishing. Led by the Australian maestro Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals had tasted glory back in the inaugural 2008 season in a surrealistic but convincing fashion.

As one of the several products of the IPL, Yusuf Pathan had created a breakthrough into the Indian team, courtesy his belligerent knocks for his franchise. The statistics – 435 runs in 15 matches at an astounding strike-rate of 179 with four half centuries – clearly indicated his extraordinary potential and phenomenal caliber.

Pathan’s emergence to the higher echelons of impact-making was aided by consistent performances in the subsequent seasons. By 2010, Pathan had earned enviable amount of stardom with hundreds of followers marveling his blistering centuries for the Rajasthan Royals and the Indian ODI team. Since then, however, his graph has essentially scripted a negative slope with instances of his earlier brilliance being too few and far in-between.

Kolkata Knight Riders had purchased him for two million dollars in 2011 hoping for a turnaround in the franchise’s results. They managed to lift the trophy next season, but Yusuf Pathan almost never preferred to replicate the assault he is supposed to be capable of. Such had been his consistency at failure that a couple of decent performances looked distinctively irregular and anomalous.

For a bits and pieces player like Yusuf, it’s not impractical to anticipate a series of failures after a match-winning performance. However, that performance, as of now, is merely a luxury of utopia. What is startling, though, is that the law of averages seems to be piling the shortcomings up since a pretty long time – so long that even a 37-ball century would struggle to even it up.

Every time he has walked in to bat, Pathan has returned within minutes without troubling the scorers much. No explosion, no change whatsoever; his batting has suffered almost similar existential uncertainties as his fielding. Massive expectations have ultimately yielded to consistent disappointments; from an impact player, Yusuf Pathan has gradually and effectively engraved his name in the liability sheet.

Considered to be blessed along the same lines as a David Miller or Glenn Maxwell, Pathan had offered a complete all-rounder package for India in the shorter format of the game. Strangely though, apart from a solitary ODI century in South Africa, Pathan has been rather listless and erratic in the blue jersey. His off spin has been pretty ineffective which is evident from his unflattering ODI average of 41.36 and T20 average of 33.69.

Not that Pathan hasn’t been shifted and floated in the batting order. He has been tried at every position from opener to No. 7, albeit with the same result. Scoring a thirty for his franchise has been fairly rare in the last three seasons; a forty has been too infrequent.

If a cricketer primarily crafted for cameos fail to deliver time and again irrespective of the complicity of circumstances, where’s the harm in trying a decent domestic player like Manvinder Bisla in his place? The question, ricocheting off every Kolkata Knight Riders fan, continues to linger while Gautam Gambhir conveniently goes on defying logic.

Gambhir’s defence of Pathan has been as unwavering as the latter’s lack of success. From acceptance of his unpredictability to ‘big-match player’, Gambhir’s excuses have been varying and unconvincing. The refusal to admit Pathan’s plunge to mediocrity remains, quite bizarrely, KKR’s principal dictum as they continue to maintain desperate impermeability to the simmering feeling of depravity among the fans.

At the current rate of progress, it will need only a Herculean effort for KKR to qualify for the knockout stage with an effectively 10-man playing team. Yusuf Pathan, with his reluctance towards feet movement and unenthusiastic demeanor, will require nothing less than a miracle to find form.

Miracles do happen in IPL. But when they occur too frequently, it – unfortunate, you may complain – is called fixing.

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