CB Series 2011-12 February 24, 2012

Irfan Pathan makes his case for No. 7

It is clear that Irfan is a better batsman than Ravindra Jadeja, at least at No. 7. It should be a no-brainer that Irfan should be preferred because his bowling is likely to be more effective than Jadeja's

Irfan Pathan, still on a comeback trail, has said that his reworked action, in which he delivers from a higher arm position, has helped him find his areas better, and made him a better bowler. He also feels he is in a peaceful mental state, not worrying too much about selection or results, and just staying happy.

"What I wanted to do in this [Australia] trip is, make myself a circle, where I am happy no matter what happens," Irfan said. "Even if I play, don't play, do well, don't do well. I have realised that there are certain things that are important in life. I am trying to stay in that circle."

That doesn't mean Irfan has not been working hard. It has taken him four to five months to get his action right, he said. "When I came in 2003, I had a natural action in which I used to twist," Irfan said. "When you are 19 and when you are 27, it's different. My action went wrong because of the twist. I kept going even more round-arm, side-on. That hurt me because I couldn't bowl in the right areas. The speed went out too and the swing was coming out of the hand.

"When I went to Sekhar sir [TA Sekhar, the head coach at MRF Pace Academy in Chennai], I worked on my action. It took me four-five months to change it to feel what I am feeling now. It's a long and slow process. When I worked with him in 2007, I started with just walking for a week. It took a month just to get a feel of it. Then it took four-five months in the change of action."

Irfan is happy with the swing he is getting, the accuracy and the variations. "Working with Eric Simons [India's former bowling coach] has also helped me," he said. "Getting help and getting the basics right is helping me bowl the yorkers and different variations. I am trying to get better. Sometimes the results happen, sometimes they don't. Obviously you need the help of the right people at the right time, which I have been lucky to get."

In his three ODIs in this tri-series, Irfan has bowled 29 overs for 153 runs and six wickets. He has opened the bowling, bowled first-change and has also been used at the death. It is, however, his batting that has provided a curious study of India's selections. It is clear to everybody that Irfan is a better batsman than Ravindra Jadeja, at least at the No. 7 position, which usually needs bigger, cleaner strikes in the final few overs.

It should be a no-brainer that Irfan should be preferred because wherever his bowling might be, it is likely to be more effective than Jadeja's. In fact Jadeja, always chosen ahead of Irfan, has bowled only 42.4 overs in six matches so far, for one wicket.

In one of the earlier press conferences, when asked to explain his choice of playing too many spinners in Australian conditions, MS Dhoni said he was handcuffed by the absence of a fast-bowling allrounder. It is easy, in this atmosphere of mistrust, to look at this as a case of favouritism, but when pressed Dhoni said Irfan was his fast-bowling allrounder, but he didn't want to play him as soon as he had arrived in Australia.

When Irfan did play, he was sent in at No. 9, where he hit a crucial six in a tie. Irfan took that sportingly. "You have to be realistic," he said. "What you have done in the past is totally in the past. You have to look at the current scenario. Ashwin has batted really well. He has a Test hundred and batted well in Australia. You want to get higher, but have to be realistic too."

Does Irfan think he is ready to take - at least in Australia - the No. 7 spot, a position that has exchanged hands between Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan recently with no clear winner. "When you are not thinking about results, it comes," Irfan said. "Even for my short-term plans, [do] not think too much ahead, [do] not think too much back, stay in that circle [of happiness]."

The message, though, had been drilled home. In India's previous game, Irfan was promoted to No. 6, and scored 47 off 34 with hardly an undue risk taken. "In the last game, I got a hint that they would send me to use the Powerplay," Irfan said. "I am ready to bat wherever the team demands. It is not an issue for me. In terms of bowling as well, I am willing to bowl whenever they want me to, with the new ball or the old ball. As long as I am playing, I am happy."

How does Irfan see himself? Does he himself think he is that fast-bowling allrounder? "I think I am a bowler who can bat," Irfan said. "If you look at me in the nets, I always make sure I give equal importance to both aspects. When I am bowling, I make sure I bowl length at the start, use variations and try to finish it with death-overs bowling and variations.

"Same in batting. I pad up and wait for my turn and make sure when I finish my batting with regular bowlers, I try to do some extra throwing with the coaches, and bat some extra. Even in a match, when I bowl I am a bowler, and when I am batting, I try to think as a batsman. Unfortunately in the last match, I wanted to stay till the last, but the result didn't go our way.

"The best thing for me would be to take wickets. When I keep taking wickets, it helps my batting. And vice-versa. When I look at myself, I feel it's 60-40 - 60, bowler, and 40, batsman. But when I bat, I like to think as a batsman."

Does Irfan think he is ready to take - at least in Australia - the No. 7 spot, a position that has exchanged hands between Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan recently with no clear winner. "When you are not thinking about results, it comes," Irfan said. "Even for my short-term plans, [do] not think too much ahead, [do] not think too much back, stay in that circle [of happiness]."

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 27, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    partialaty, partialaty why i dont know why dhoni is doing lke that he is reaaly a good captain but why????? he is playing his favourate player like jadeja , r.p.sing e.tc. even the are not in form and he his not giving full chance the player like irfaan, manoj why ???????????? i think know its time to go for sachin, sehwag, dhoni,ghambhir and give chance to new player

  • Makku on February 26, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Another highly overrated player, he is ridiculously slow to be in the national team period.

  • Nikhil on February 26, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    A fit and in-form Irfan Pathan is better than Jadeja and Y. Pathan, at least for me. He adds to the pace attack, a department where we lack... we already have a lot of part-time spinners to support Ashwin or any He still has lot to offer to Indian Cricket and I sincerely hope he will be consistent in future and retain a permanent position in the team :)

  • Vikram on February 26, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    @kiran kumar c, 100 % agreed with what you wrote about jadeja,,dhoni did a mistake by giving him many chances the first time and he's been him again and again wasting a slot. he's got to be in ranji and IPL,,not with the Indian team.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    Jadeja is a real waste. I CAN ASSURE ALL INDIAN FANS THAT IF IRFAN PATHAN FLOPS IN NEXT MATCH AGAINST AUS THEN HE WILL BE DROPPED INSTANTANEOUSLY FROM TEAM WHILE PLAYERS LIKE JADEJA WILL BE KEPT IN THE TEAM EVEN AFTER MANY FAILURES ( T20 WC 2009 , T20 WC 2010 , HYDERBAD ODI AGAINST AUS IN WHICH SACHIN MADE 175 & WAS OUT WHEN INDIA NEEDING ONLY 18 RUNS FROM 17 BALLS WITH LEAVING 4 WKTS IN HAND YET JADEJA CAN'T BRING INDIA HOME & INDIA LOSE GAME BY 3 RUNS , IST ODI AT MCG WHERE JADEJA LEAKS 41 RUNS FROM 2.4 OVERS , TIED MATCH AGAINST SL WHERE HE MADE ONLY 3 RUNS FROM 10 BALLS) dhoni makes partiality to players like Pathan Brothers, harbajan, sachin, sehwag etc. he wants his CSK teammates like Raina, Ashwin, Jadejain the indian team( all dhoni's chelas). He droped inform Yuvaraj singh for raina in test match against Srilanka. gave 50+ chances in odi for waste so called jadeja & not enough chance to real allrounder Irfan pathan.Jadeja is the Worst Player I have ever seen from India).

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    India should try him( IRFAN ) again and again i'm damn sure he can be one of the best bowling all rounder for team So selectors and team management need to support

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    Irfan is a good utility player in the shorter format. hes not the best all-rounder but hes the best we got. if he picks up his pace to135 and maintains a steady nice line and length he would be a great containing bowler in the middle overs. as for his batting, he is quite frankly underrated. hes a way better batsman than dhoni and co. he is not only a clean striker of the ball but is also capable of pacing his innings which was quite evident from the last game. if this guy cud pace the bowl at 145, he would have been one of the best all rounders in the world...

    I would strongly suggest playing Irfan up the order at 4 after Kohli and move Sehwag (if hes not dropped) down the order.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    Irfan, you have done very well in whatever chances you got so far. we love you, and the best option for you as a player is to be a 50-50 bowler and batsman. there is no point in trying too much, you are never going to be a wasim akram. you just dont have that kind of talent. but what u can be is a tidy line and length bowler. if i were u, i would try to increase pace to about 130-135 and maintain a steady good line and length. You are a way better batsman than Jadega and quite frankly should be coming at 5 or 6. Good luck buddy, maintain your current batting performance and if u can speed up to 135 and have a tidy line and length. wish u the very best

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    play jadeja as a spinner and irfan as a seamer and two other pace bowler and 7 batsmen. more bowling and batting dept. done!!!

  • Anit on February 25, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    Irfan's change in action may have made him better than what he was before. However, he lacks pace and the swing he used to get early in his career is still not there. He needs to pick pace a little and be consistent at around 135k. Only than he will be better bowler. Being in happy zone is fine as long as one doesn't err in rigor of training and commitment. This is where SRT has done good. Shewag does not come across as a player who will put rigor in maintaining physical fitness. Nor has be put any commitment in addressing his lack of footwork.

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