DateLine: 19th February 2007
He has ended the decade long quest for a genuine all rounder and has emerged as a key member of the Indian side both in Tests and ODIs. But it was as a bowler that Irfan Pathan first burst upon the scene. Imaginative selection saw him rushed from the Under-19 side to bolster the Indian squad in Australia in 2003-04 and one could immediately see him a special talent that needed to be nurtured carefully. His Test debut coincided with a famous victory at Adelaide and while he had no real part in it he has since then shaped many Indian triumphs in both forms of the game. While initially he shone with the ball “ a potent outswinger, a lethal Yorker, a nasty bouncer and the adeptness in reversing the ball being the hallmarks “ it was observed that with his clean hitting and authentic strokes he could also contribute substantially with the bat. By 2005 he had contributed enough to be hailed as the first Indian all rounder since Manoj Prabhakar made a rather premature exit in 1996. His elevation up the order in Tests and his pinch-hitting stints at No 3 in one-day cricket were strategic moves that were widely welcomed. Somewhere along the line he seemed to have lost confidence in 2006 but it surely is only a matter of time before he shrugs off this as an aberration and returns to his dynamic match winning ways.