Pakistan v India, 3rd Test, Karachi, 1st day January 29, 2006

Pathan bounces back with a bang

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Irfan Pathan: 'It's a dream for anyone and it's wonderful for me to get a hat-trick in the first over.' © AFP

There have been several sensational starts to Tests matches, but few may rival what Irfan Pathan engineered today, blasting three wickets just as the spectators were settling into their seats. Test hat-tricks have occurred on 36 ocassions but none of them have come so early in a Test.

What Pathan had for breakfast this morning may need to be preserved in cold storage but he spoke about the conducive environment that helped him. "There was some moisture in the wicket this morning," he told the media at the end of the day. "It was doing a lot off the seam but there was not much movement in the air." He added that he usually didn't look at the pitch before the game began and said he always concentrated on his plan, irrespective of the surface on offer.

Considering the number of times he has decimated Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, it's strange he hasn't managed a hat-trick. "I've been on a hat-trick twice in international cricket," he said while talking about his thoughts ahead of the third wicket, "and I told myself that if it didn't happen before, it may not happen today. I just told myself to try to bowl stump to stump. I didn't realise it would actually happen. It's a dream for anyone and it's wonderful for me to get a hat-trick in the first over."

After insipid performances at Lahore and in the first innings at Faisalabad a lot of theories were floating around about Pathan's technique, action and attitude. "People are always going to talk about these things," Pathan added, "especially when you're not doing well. I can't bother about those things. I'm lucky to be in a team that helps a lot, no matter what the conditions or no matter how well we are doing. We have a good coach, a good captain, and a good support staff. When you play cricket for a long time, your action may change a little. But I didn't make any conscious change. The last two pitches were flat and it was tough to bowl on. People must realise that."

Admitting that India had allowed the advantage to slip, Pathan, while praising Kamran Akmal's hundred, felt the bowlers had missed a trick as well. "You can't say we are disappointed but at 39 for 6, Kamran played really well and made a brilliant hundred. We need one big partnership to recover quickly and it can happen now because the old ball doesn't do as much. We would have been happy if we could have bowled them out cheaply but we need to go on now."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo