I asked Dhoni during 2008 Australia series: Irfan narrates how he wanted clarification from team management | Crickit
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I asked Dhoni during 2008 Australia series: Irfan narrates how he wanted clarification from team management

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Karan Prashant Saxena
Jun 05, 2020 11:58 AM IST

In a recent interview, Irfan Pathan opened up on the time when he was unable to make it into the playing XI and said he was not completely backed by the team.

The former India pacer Irfan Pathan is still remembered as one of the best bowlers to be a part of the Indian cricket team. The left-armer made a name for himself when he picked up a hat-trick in the first over a Test match against Pakistan, dismissing Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf. Pathan was also a part of the 2007 T20I World Cup-winning Indian team, and with figures of 3/16 in 4 overs, he was named the man-of-the-match in the final against Pakistan. But Pathan’s international career had a disappointing end as he was unable to make it into the team on several occasions after the 2007 ODI World Cup.

File image of Irfan Pathan and MS Dhoni in action.(AFP)
File image of Irfan Pathan and MS Dhoni in action.(AFP)

Later in his career, Irfan received criticisms from fans and cricketing pundits that he is no longer able to get swing on the ball and also lacked pace. In a recent interview, Pathan opened up on the same and said that he was not completely backed by the team when he needed them to.

Also read: Aaron Finch names India-Australia combined ODI XI team, Rohit Sharma misses out

“When I was dropped, I was man of the match in the last ODI, and had man of the match in my last T20I. Wriddhiman Saha came back into the side without playing cricket for a year. When he was away, Rishabh Pant had already scored two hundreds, but still Saha was given a chance. Some players are backed, some are not. Some are fortunate, some are unfortunate. I was among the list of unfortunate ones,” he said in an interview to Sports Tak.

“People were saying that ‘Irfan Pathan cannot swing anymore’ and the team needed to change the atmosphere around this, but it was not done. If I am bowling as a first change, then of course I will not get as much swing as I used to. My role was changed. If I want to bowl attacking, my captain would tell me that my role is to contain - which meant I had to bowl more variations, and cutters.  

“When you bowl more cutters, your bowling also changes accordingly. Even in practice, you are told to bowl this way. So, you changed my role, no problem. But now you back me. I feel that was not done completely,” he said.

Pathan went on to recall the 2009 T20I encounter against Sri Lanka in which he and his brother Yusuf Pathan stitched an unbeaten 60-run partnership for the 8th wicket to win a difficult match for India.

Also read: Bowl six balls at one place, he would hit them in six different directions: Brett Lee picks three batsmen he played against

“I remember Sri Lanka T20I match in which me and Yusuf won the match for India. If any player in today’s day and age, picks one wicket - of someone like Sanath Jayasuria, and then wins a near-impossible match for the team with the bat, he would not be dropped for at least a year.

“I remember, we went to New Zealand next, we played five ODIs, I didn’t play a single game. India were 3-0 ahead, one match was washed out, one game was left, and I didn’t even play that game. I had asked coach Gary Kirsten at that time what could I do to improve my game. He said, you are batting and bowling well, but certain things are not in my hands,” Irfan further revealed.

On being asked by the reporter that did he ever ask skipper MS Dhoni what can he do to be in the team, Irfan recalled the 2008 series against Australia.

Also read: ‘Was busy watching Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly’: When Bangladesh batsman was left starstruck by India’s Big Three

“Yes, I asked him. During the 2008 Australia series, Mahi bhai’s statement came out in the media that Irfan wasn’t bowling well. So I thought I had bowled well throughout the series, so I went and asked Mahi bhai about this. Sometimes, the statements are twisted in the media, so I also wanted to clarify. So Mahi bhai said ‘no Irfan, there is nothing like this, everything’s going as per plans’. When you get a reply like this, then you believe that okay, you do what you can. Also if you keep asking explanations again and again after that, your hurt your self-respect.

“I don’t have a habit of setting up hookah in someones’ room or talk about this. Everyone knows. Sometimes if you don’t speak about it, it’s better. A cricketer’s job is to perform on the field and that is what I used to focus on,” he further said.

“What it means to be a cricketer is to perform and if someone performs, he needs to be rewarded. If you don’t reward him, his confidence is bound to get hurt, no matter who that player is,” he added.

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