Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The changed Yusuf Pathan

Courtesy - AFP

The few glimpses one saw of Yusuf Pathan in the final of ICC T20 WC 2007, which India won, was never enough to put a judgment on him. Then came IPL 2008 and this Pathan, like his younger brother, became a household name after amassing 435 runs at a strike rate of 179 runs per 100 balls.

Everyone watching realized his talent of effortless hitting and ability to perform under pressure. He instantly became Shane Warne's favourite. Can't really blame Warne, can we ? The lad scored runs in crucial matches including the final to take the Rajasthan Royals, an underdog team to the title. There was no doubting his ability to smash spinners and medium pacers out of the park.

Soon, he was picked in India's ODI squad. From his debut till the end of 2009, he featured in 29 ODIs, playing 20 innings at an average of just 20 and strike rate of 98. Often, he was seen throwing his wicket away due to lack of patience. One such instance I remember, was in New Zealand, when he was caught trying to hit Nathan McCullum for a third six in three balls in a T20 game. After a while, I felt he probably wasn't the right man for the number seven spot. The word about his inability to play short pitch had spread, which was also not helping him.

From 2010 onwards, Yusuf has played 11 innings at an average of 49 with two superb centuries and a well fought fifty. In these 11 innings, he was scoring 125 runs per 100 balls, way better than earlier strike-rate of 98. What really happened to cause this drastic change in statistics ??

Two things really, one being determination and second being patience. The two hundreds that he has scored, showed exactly these two qualities. The unbeaten 123 against the Kiwis, showed he had learned to be patient. In spite, of Daniel Vettori inviting him to attack with loopy deliveries, he waited till he was well set and then finished the game off in style. Yusuf showed far more maturity then he had in New Zealand.

The other hundred, came against South Africa in South Africa that too when India were in a really bad position. This knock showed his sheer determination and will. He wasn't finding it easy to cope up with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and the likes, but kept going. He kept taking body blows at over 140 KMPH. It didn't look pretty but you have to give it to him for his guts to stand up to these men. In spite of these weaknesses, he managed a 68-ball century with eight sixes. It was an innings of substance and showcased his fighting character.

The moment I saw him play the knock against the Kiwis, I had a gut feeling that Yusuf is a changed man now. So far, he has proved me correct by doing what he knows best, but with more consistency than before. He never lost confidence on his abilities but made sure he worked on the mental aspect of the game. The result has been very promising so far.

It is often said, that fifty percent of anything is mental aspect, while the other fifty percent is dependent on talent and hard work. Hopefully, Rohit Sharma, who is an extremely talented youngster learns a few things from Yusuf Pathan.

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  1. hey mike..good article... i have a question in my mind.
    do we see yusuf playing the role of "symonds of india" 2 years down the lane ?

  2. I like the way Pathan has transformed himself...hopefully, he is serious about his ambitions of making it to the Test team!

  3. @Shubham - Symonds of India would be good, but how about India's Klusner ???

    @Benny - Right now, test team is a distant dream, lets hope he does well in WC.


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