March 20, 2010

Short's not sweet for Pathan

 
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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

  • Shujath 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

  • Ashif 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 punjab.so 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 comments.am also praying for irfan to get a chance for 20 20 squad if at all is not going to happen.

  • am 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.

  • aman 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.

  • marees 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

  • Wasim 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

  • Paramjit Singh 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.

  • Raj 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

  • Raj 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

  • Raj 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.

  • Shujath 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

  • Ashif 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 punjab.so 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 comments.am also praying for irfan to get a chance for 20 20 squad if at all is not going to happen.

  • am 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.

  • aman 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.

  • marees 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

  • Wasim 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

  • Paramjit Singh 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.

  • Raj 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

  • Raj 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

  • Raj 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.

  • brisco on March 21, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    yusuf can at least turn one out of every six matches he plays. Thats good enough for India. On the day he gets going he is unstoppable. And he does take risks, so there is a risk of getting out. Rather than persisting with losers like Dinesh Karthik and Robin Utappa, its better to give a few more chances to some one like Yusuf, who at least drives fear into the opposition. It makes sense to select guys like Pathan and Saurabh Tiwari so that the opposition keeps focusing on them, letting the others do their job easily.

  • Ahsanawan on March 21, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    Hold on Ic, dont brand Yusuf pathan as Indian Afridi, as the real Afridi has won many a matches for Pakistan on international level and most important being the semi-final and finals of last T20 world cup.

  • Indian Fan on March 21, 2010, 8:12 GMT

    Please give him some chance to settle down no one become great players in 3 or 4 years you can go back and check on all players who took time to acheive milestones and you will see if he has the same support from the selection commitee and XYZ's then he will be a great player for Indian who can tear any bowling apart.

  • M@cK... on March 21, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Yusuf Pathan and Irfan Pathan they bot are my Favourite Batsmen... Yusuf Pathan Rocks agains Mumbai... But now a days Everyone read his Weakness that is Slow Bouncer Short Lenghth Deliver I Think Pathan has To Prove that They are Thinking Wrong about Him..Whil His younger Brother can Play each and everyshort i hope u remember his inning Against Deccan Chargers no one can forget..

  • P Subramani on March 21, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    I refer to a comment by S Choudhary where he mentions that Wasim Jaffer could not handle the short pitched fast bowling in Australia. Actually, Jaffer is one of the very best back foot players we have seen emerging from the Bombay stables. He dd well in West Indies and South Africa against good fast bowling. In Australia he failed because of his weakness against the incoming ball from good length. He got out many times to this to one of the fast bowlers. It is unfortunate that he was dropped from the Tests after his failure in Australia because he is otherwise a fine player of fast bowling, is a big innings player and brings a calm to the game seldom seen other than in Dravid. I wish he had had the backing of some bigwigs. He was made for greatness really.With a little practice it may have been possible.

  • Ic on March 21, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    I'll go for Kallis or dravid anyday than yosuf. He is the most overrated and never clicked at international level. He is the Indian afridi.

  • P Subramani on March 21, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    This whole business about Indians being vulnerable to short pitched bowling is not really something that has been the case always. Batsmen like Vijay Manjrekar, Mushtaq Ali, Sunil Gavaskar to namejust a few were all very good at playing the hook and the pull shot. We did not have many fast bowlers then nor did we have fast and bouncy pitches. It is just that some Indian batsmen are either ill-equipped technically or in terms courage to face such bowling because of the lack of opportunity to face bowlers of great pace. As far as Yusuf Pathan is concerned he is without doubt a very courageous man. It is just that he is unable to judge which ball is short to go for the hook shot. He does have the skill of executing this shot which could be brushed up a bit against wet tennis balls and then you will have the complete package.I am sure he is working on this already. Mohender Amarnath was dropped fro the Test team because he could not play the hook shot but returned as a great player.

  • S. Choudhry on March 21, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    That was a very interesting, insightful comment. Its not about criticising Pathan, (and I am a big fan of the man). It just explains a possible weakness in his batting and one that he should work on, to better himself. Pathan is a very modest guy and he will be all ears if someone points that out to him. Many Indian top hitters have problems with genuine quicks. Probably because they don't face enough true quicks in domestic cricket. Just remember what happened to Wasim Jaffer. A classy batsmen whose test career is over because he couldn't handle the quicks in Australia.

  • asdf on March 20, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    Every player has weaknesses but lets remember there is very small room for error between hitting a six and getting caught at the boundary. If it is so easy why didnt anyone score a century yet in IPL

  • hareesh on March 20, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    if critics point out the inability of yusuf pathan to handle short deliveries , we have to make a not here that earlier even the mastero of batting Sachin also struggled playing against left arm fast bowlers and left am spin too. I feel it all depends on how quickly a players overcomes his weakness. Moreover Yusuf pathan is a too good talented player that one cannot ignore

  • sundar on March 20, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    Yusuf Pathan is a higly overrated player who has failed against genuine quick bowling. Yusuf is the best batsman in the world when the ball is of full length or of good length. But when the ball is short or short of good length he looks like a tailender.

  • Harendra on March 20, 2010, 19:34 GMT

    The opposition captain has to hold back his fast men for Pathan, that's for sure. In a way it's also a handy contribution where other batsmen can cash in. He is a sort of player that make me awake at 3:30 am. He can not hit everyday. But on his day it's a nightmare for some and delight for others.

  • Abhishek on March 20, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    I agree with Raj's comment. We have seen yusuf hitting Umar Gul and Harmission bowling at 90mph hit out of the ground on short balls. I think the pressure is just the factor that is making appear like a below average short ball player. I think he can certainly cope it. (Just a bit doubtful on Aussie pitches). However his bro Irfan is certainly good player of short ball.

  • Abhishek on March 20, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    I agree with Raj's comment. We have seen yusuf hitting Umar Gul and Harmission bowling at 90mph hit out of the ground on short balls. I think the pressure is just the factor that is making appear like a below average short ball player. I think he can certainly cope it. (Just a bit doubtful on Aussie pitches). However his bro Irfan is certainly good player of short ball.

  • raj on March 20, 2010, 18:40 GMT

    We should look the performance of the whole team before criticizing him. Off course today the batting was above average,once they gets the winning streak he also will get more concerntration.please be note that the whole team batting is depending on him.so he have the pressure that is resulting him to restricting the free flowing nature of his battting.

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  • raj on March 20, 2010, 18:40 GMT

    We should look the performance of the whole team before criticizing him. Off course today the batting was above average,once they gets the winning streak he also will get more concerntration.please be note that the whole team batting is depending on him.so he have the pressure that is resulting him to restricting the free flowing nature of his battting.

  • Abhishek on March 20, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    I agree with Raj's comment. We have seen yusuf hitting Umar Gul and Harmission bowling at 90mph hit out of the ground on short balls. I think the pressure is just the factor that is making appear like a below average short ball player. I think he can certainly cope it. (Just a bit doubtful on Aussie pitches). However his bro Irfan is certainly good player of short ball.

  • Abhishek on March 20, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    I agree with Raj's comment. We have seen yusuf hitting Umar Gul and Harmission bowling at 90mph hit out of the ground on short balls. I think the pressure is just the factor that is making appear like a below average short ball player. I think he can certainly cope it. (Just a bit doubtful on Aussie pitches). However his bro Irfan is certainly good player of short ball.

  • Harendra on March 20, 2010, 19:34 GMT

    The opposition captain has to hold back his fast men for Pathan, that's for sure. In a way it's also a handy contribution where other batsmen can cash in. He is a sort of player that make me awake at 3:30 am. He can not hit everyday. But on his day it's a nightmare for some and delight for others.

  • sundar on March 20, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    Yusuf Pathan is a higly overrated player who has failed against genuine quick bowling. Yusuf is the best batsman in the world when the ball is of full length or of good length. But when the ball is short or short of good length he looks like a tailender.

  • hareesh on March 20, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    if critics point out the inability of yusuf pathan to handle short deliveries , we have to make a not here that earlier even the mastero of batting Sachin also struggled playing against left arm fast bowlers and left am spin too. I feel it all depends on how quickly a players overcomes his weakness. Moreover Yusuf pathan is a too good talented player that one cannot ignore

  • asdf on March 20, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    Every player has weaknesses but lets remember there is very small room for error between hitting a six and getting caught at the boundary. If it is so easy why didnt anyone score a century yet in IPL

  • S. Choudhry on March 21, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    That was a very interesting, insightful comment. Its not about criticising Pathan, (and I am a big fan of the man). It just explains a possible weakness in his batting and one that he should work on, to better himself. Pathan is a very modest guy and he will be all ears if someone points that out to him. Many Indian top hitters have problems with genuine quicks. Probably because they don't face enough true quicks in domestic cricket. Just remember what happened to Wasim Jaffer. A classy batsmen whose test career is over because he couldn't handle the quicks in Australia.

  • P Subramani on March 21, 2010, 5:49 GMT

    This whole business about Indians being vulnerable to short pitched bowling is not really something that has been the case always. Batsmen like Vijay Manjrekar, Mushtaq Ali, Sunil Gavaskar to namejust a few were all very good at playing the hook and the pull shot. We did not have many fast bowlers then nor did we have fast and bouncy pitches. It is just that some Indian batsmen are either ill-equipped technically or in terms courage to face such bowling because of the lack of opportunity to face bowlers of great pace. As far as Yusuf Pathan is concerned he is without doubt a very courageous man. It is just that he is unable to judge which ball is short to go for the hook shot. He does have the skill of executing this shot which could be brushed up a bit against wet tennis balls and then you will have the complete package.I am sure he is working on this already. Mohender Amarnath was dropped fro the Test team because he could not play the hook shot but returned as a great player.

  • Ic on March 21, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    I'll go for Kallis or dravid anyday than yosuf. He is the most overrated and never clicked at international level. He is the Indian afridi.