Sunday, April 17, 2011

What on earth is happening with Irfan Pathan

A relieved Irfan Pathan turned up for a post-match interview after Delhi Daredevils' close win over Pune Warriors in IPLT20. They say Irfan lost confidence in his bowling. But whenever Irfan speaks, I see a confident & communicative young man ready with intelligent & frank responses without having to be prodded. Today I saw that sparkling side of Irfan once again. I even see shades of the current Indian skipper when Irfan is in this mood. Try as I did, I could not match the bubbly guy I saw today with people's general perception of him (and with his own lack of performances in domestic cricket).

If Irfan Pathan shows decent returns in domestic cricket, then with his kind of ability I cannot believe he can EVER be a lesser preference to selectors than Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla and some of the others tried out these days. His middle overs bowling was key to Dhoni's T20 WC final win in 2007. Currently in ODI's the Indian team needs a medium-quick bowling all rounder MORE than spin-bowling ones. Yet here we see Irfan, showing much fluency with the bat at number 3 and speaking brightly in T20 interviews while betraying NO SIGNS of returning to India colours. It would be interesting to see his response had the interviewer thrown that question.

Has Irfan Pathan lost interest in international cricket? Is he happy as he is today? Is he no more keen to come back to Team India? I won't dwell again on the twisted incentives that IPL paychecks present for top T20 players. I have blogged generally on it earlier. He may even be going through genuine form issues. However, I find 'years of bowling form lapse' quite phoney for someone who, 5 years back, only had to turn up at the bowling crease for the ball to start swinging.

The other intriguing aspect about his current IPL stint: inspite of his moderate showing in previous IPL's he fetched a staggering price as an all-rounder, a price that is normally reserved for'guaranteed performers', or in other words the top players in the world who excel in other formats too. There must be something in him that the IPL franchisees are seeing and investing on, but the selectors & Irfan himself seem to be unaware of it!

Strange, the way some truly promising careers shape up in this game...especially now that IPL adds a twist that was not seen till 4 years back.

PS: I have seen and read about the 'Chappell effect' on Irfan's career. I am sure some of you would want to go back there. However I have my reservations in even starting to discuss the argument that a major talent continues to get defocussed 4 years after Chappell has left.

[developed from the note posted on my Facebook profile;
cross posted with minor edits on ]

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