March 20, 2010

Short's not sweet for Pathan


The way he bats, and that his big scores are often match-winning, means allowance must be made for a few scores for him © AFP

Watching cricket is that bit more rewarding if you can find a story within the story, and even Twenty20 can occasionally provide it. For me, the match between the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders came down to Yusuf Pathan v the bouncer.

The way he bats, and that his big scores are often match-winning, means allowance must be made for a few scores for him. But there has been a worrying pattern to his batting: not only does he have only one gear – the fifth – he also has to deal with a shortage of scoring options. Against bowlers aware of, and capable of, exploiting his weakness, he can not only be contained, but made to look brittle.

Bangalore did this ruthlessly. Vinay Kumar, just above fast medium, hit him on the head, which Pathan responded to with two sixes. But against the short stuff from Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis, he swished and flailed. One mistimed pull slipped out of Rahul Dravid’s palms, another barely eluded Vinay Kumar. Eventually, he was dismissed because his partner called him for a desperate single, but he never got going.

Shane Warne, who had earned some incredulity for describing Pathan’s 37-ball hundred against Mumbai as the “greatest innings” he had ever watched, promptly sprang to his defence. Try bowling short to Pathan, he dared, and if you get it wrong, he’d put you out of the park.

Sourav Ganguly, never a step behind in these matters, let it be known cryptically, when asked about his strategy against Pathan, that Shane Bond would sort him out.

He stuck to his tactics. Bond was given only one over at the start, and was summoned the moment Pathan arrived at the crease. The first one, full and outside off, Pathan hammered point for a single; the second was the short one, but it climbed limply and there was room outside off for Pathan to guide it to the third man boundary; he took a single off the next; and, back on strike for the last one, he found the ball in his half and clattered it over mid-off. Two more bouncers came in the next over, but Pathan managed to score three more runs off them. Pathan v Bond stood 7 balls, four bouncers, 13 runs.

And then Ashok Dinda materialised, and what a tease he was. The first one arrived at Kumble speed, which Pathan, perhaps surprised, managed only to pat back down the pitch. The second one was a bouncer, but it took ages to arrive. Pathan considered pulling but bailed out. The third one was full and much quicker, and Pathan managed to find the man at point. The next was a gentle leg-cutter that Pathan hit to long on for a single. His partner managed a single off the fifth, and Dinda’s last gambit was a bouncer, which Pathan shaped to launch into the crowd; once again, though, the horizontal bat failed to obey his will and the ball caught the top end of the blade hung and comfortably in the air for Brad Hodge to catch.

The match ended happily for the Royals and Pathan’s offspin was more than useful in containing the Knight Riders. But better batsmen than him – Graeme Hick and Vinod Kambli to name two – have had their international careers cut short by the short ball. Pathan’s challenge is to find a way around it.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on March 26, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    Now all the loosers who are against Yusuf Pathan's ability now shut ur mouths and let him smash all the bowling attacks comes in his way,he is much better than the XYZ of the selected T20 side for the world cup.Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeers

  • testli5504537 on March 24, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    Yes both the pathan brothers are excellent.most are pointing about the weakness of yusuf to play short balls.can u point out some indian batsmen except rahul dravid who plays the short balls well.i dont think that it as his weakness and let him prove himself.about irfan why he is not being selected to the 30 men squad.selectors comment was due to his injury.we all are seeing him from the first game of selectors have to answer for not selecting such a talent.we all know he is one of the key members of punjab team.if u people are agreeing with me please make useful also praying for irfan to get a chance for 20 20 squad if at all is not going to happen.

  • testli5504537 on March 23, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    I like both of the Pathan Brothers, but I actually think that Irfan Pathan should go to the 20/20 World Cup.

    As he is an excellent striker of the ball, and will do stuff while bowling outside of India.

  • testli5504537 on March 22, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    some of you have pointed out that yusuf has never clicked at the international level. but that is because he hardly gets to play any overs coming at number 7. for rajasthan royals and baroda he bats at number 4 or 5. against mumbai indians he got himself set (14 off 13 balls) and then exploded(100 off 37 balls). dhoni needs to show some faith in pathan and promote him so that he can utilise the powerplay.

  • testli5504537 on March 22, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    dont forget Bevan, excellent one-day specialist, whose test career never took off because he couldn't handle short ball as well as others

  • testli5504537 on March 21, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    Almost every indian batsmen struggles against geniun fast n short bowling all of u remember fidal edwards in last 20 world cup i still feel he will overcome his weakness

  • testli5504537 on March 21, 2010, 15:49 GMT

    Yusuf is a great batsman.I am watching the live cricket for 33 years. Last time, I remembered player playing his game with the attitude he had was Sir Viv Richards.You can see his face when Yusuf face any bowler.No fear at all.Yes he is beaten sometimes or get out. But fear he bring in bowler's mind is second to none.He will be fine guys. He is a great asset to his teams.Wait on guys you will see more fireworks and his attitude makes it more ruthless.

  • testli5504537 on March 21, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    I think every team now is trying to pull a leaf out of jumbos book. For example bowling short ball against pathan and yuvi or himself as a spinner starting the precedings with the bowling

  • testli5504537 on March 21, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    I think every team now is trying to pull a leaf out of jumbos book. For example bowling short ball against pathan and yuvi or himself as a spinner starting the precedings with the bowling

  • testli5504537 on March 21, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    I am always amazed at the tendency of a certain breed of journalists to blast the IPL in general, and Yusuf Pathan in particular. He's had a fantastic domestic season, and lets not forget the man is carrying an injury. If he was English, you wouldn't have stopped talking about him. Give the guy a break, he'll do well. People did the same with Virender Sehwag, and have been made to look silly. I'm confident Yusuf will prove people wrong too.

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