Allrounder praises Ishant Sharma February 14, 2008

Pathan revels in playing different roles

Irfan Pathan is making the most of his comeback, and his performances indicate a willingness to slip into various roles demanded by the situation © Getty Images
Irfan Pathan is not losing sleep over the fact that Ishant Sharma has taken over as India's new-ball bowler. "I am enjoying the role (of first-change)", Pathan said as the squad came out to the Adelaide Oval for their first practice session ahead of the match against Australia on Sunday (February 17).

Ishant was handed the new ball for the first time in Melbourne last Sunday and repaid the faith by pushing Australia into a corner, taking 4 for 38 as India recorded an easy victory. Ishant went on to win the Player of the Match award and Pathan was all praise for his young team-mate. "Ishant bowled really well in Melbourne. I am very happy from the team perspective," Pathan said. "That is what we love to do and always aim for."

Pathan, who was out of top-flight cricket for much of 2006 and 2007, made a strong comeback in the final Test of the home series against Pakistan in Bangalore, where he scored a century and bowled within his limits. He also played a crucial role in the Perth Test with a five-wicket match haul and a valuable knock of 46 on the third morning, after being sent in as a night watchman the previous evening.

His performances indicated a willingness to slip into various roles demanded by the situation, an impression he confirmed by saying the team management had asked him to perform with flexibility and he was looking at the positives. In the CB series opener, Pathan had batted at No.8 and opened the bowling; in India's third match of the tournament at the MCG, he came in at one-drop despite that fact that Gautam Gambhir had scored a century batting at the same position in the previous game; and he did not get an opportunity to bat in the rain-curtailed match but bowled first-change. "They always look for the best outcome of the team and not individual interest. I shouldn't be asking too many questions," Pathan said.

For Pathan, the four-day break between the last game against Sri Lanka in Canberra and the next one in Adelaide is welcome because "it helps us to cool down and get back to strengthening exercises and training."

Pathan disagreed when asked if Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag were off colour, saying that making an assessment of their form would be inappropriate considering that two of India's four matches so far were abandoned. "There's no need to hit the panic button about Viru and Yuvraj. Viru got a good start in Brisbane against Sri Lanka, which is very good from the team's point of view", Pathan said, adding that it was just a matter of time before the two converted their starts.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo