Irfan Pathan: A star in his own rights

Published: Friday, April 2, 2004, 17:34 [IST]
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Multan:In the land of the Pathans, it is an Indian Pathan who has impressed one and all with his exploits on the cricket field and his humility.

In just three weeks in Pakistan, young Irfan Pathan has become a household name and even among the cricket stars, he is a star in his own rights.

Pakistani greats such as Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and former Australian captain Ian Chappell are gushing the superb performance of the left-arm seamer in One-day Internationals and the Multan Test match where he made an impressive contribution to India's win.

Many of those who saw Pathan are reminded of young Akram and predict that he has the potential to become a top fast bowler. He is much in demand by autograph hunters and journalists but all this has not gone to the head of the 19-year-old Baroda speedster.

"I will never be carried away with the attention I am getting. I am keeping my feet very much on the ground and Insha Allah I will keep doing it," he says.

It has been a phenomenal rise for the youngster ever since making his Test debut against Australia Pathan believes that there is no shortcut to success and whatever he has achieved so far has been because of his hard work. "Yeh sab Allah ki meherbani hai," he says.

The big-hearted Pathan picked up a career-best haul of 4 wickets for 100 runs in the first innings and bowled an outstanding spell in the second innings to claim two wickets to play his part in India's historic Test win on Pakistani soil.

The strapping paceman who comes from a religious background says his faith in the Almighty helps him do better in the field.

"Offering Namaz not only makes a person humble but it also helps me in concentrating better. That is one way I keep improving my performance," he says.

Pathan took the vital wickets of Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Abdul Razzaq and Saqlain Mushtaq, all dangerous batsmen in their own rights and then had Moin Khan leg before in the second innings before claiming the last wicket of Yousuf Youhana to bring about India's moment of glory in this dusty city steeped in history.

"With every match, I am getting mentally stronger. I am gaining a lot of confidence that is very important for a fast bowler. But I still have to improve a lot," he says modestly.

Pathan, on his part, credits his remarkable rise to the encouragement from his family members and his teammates. "It is because of the support of my family members and the encouragement of my seniors that I have been able to achieve whatever I have."

Although Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar may not have made much of an impression in the path-breaking Indo-Pak series, Pathan has a lot of respect for the tearaway fast bowler having learnt a lot by watching him as a youngster.

"I have always watched the style and approach of other fast bowlers. I have learnt lot from watching Shoaib bhai," he admits.

His senior players in the team, including batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, have been very protective of the new pace sensation and are keen to ensure that Pathan blossoms into his full potential without falling into the intense media scrutiny about everything he does.

Tendulkar has implored the media to keep "Irfan Pathan as Irfan Pathan."

"He has a tremendous potential. He has the knack of picking up wickets. At times, he may be expensive, but that is because he tries to get the wickets. But he still has a long way to go," Tendulkar had said.

Pathan has also earned handsome praise from his stand-in captain Rahul Dravid who is impressed by the Baroda lad's progress in such short period.

Veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who played a stellar role in India's first-ever Test triumph in Pakistan, also appreciates Pathan's improvement with every match.

"Its amazing how much he has improved. It is an overall important and it augurs well for Indian cricket," he remarks.

One of the more aggressive bowlers to come out of India in recent time, Pathan says that he does not believe in flaunting his aggression needlessly.

"Aggression is something that comes to person naturally. I believe in using it when it matters, otherwise no one will take you seriously," he says.

Pathan, who burst into the limelight after his nine-wicket haul in the Under-19 Asia Cup in Pakistan last year, said his knowledge of conditions in Pakistan has helped him a lot.

"Since I have already played matches in Pakistan, I knew what to expect. I must say that it has helped me a lot on this tour," he adds.

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