Irfan Khan Pathan
October 27, 1984, Baroda, Gujarat
Left hand bat
Left arm medium fast
Irfan Khan Pathan was considered by many, with reason, as the most talented swing and seam bowler to emerge from India since Kapil Dev. Within a couple of years in international cricket, he was thought of as a possible successor to Kapil in the all-round department. There was talent to back the hype: cast your mind back to January 2006, when the lethal curve of his late swing consumed, off the fourth, fifth and sixth balls of the Karachi Test, Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf; or to the previous Test in Faisalabad, where his 210-run partnership with MS Dhoni steered India past the follow-on mark.
But a number of factors, not least the constant injuries that Kapil miraculously avoided, meant Irfan never really fulfilled his potential, and by his late 20s was more or less confined to bits-and-pieces roles in various IPL teams.
Irfan was 19 when he made his Test debut in Australia, but already looked the part, bowling at a brisk pace and troubling quality batsmen with his left-arm swing. He played a big part in India's one-day and Test series wins on their revival tour of Pakistan in 2004.
His batting soon took off and, under the management team of Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell, he was regularly pushed up the order in ODIs - with a promotion to No.3 immediately yielding a spectacular 83 against Sri Lanka in Nagpur. He was more than just a clean ball-striker, though, and his sensible, straight-bat approach often bailed India out of strife in Tests as well.
But, either side of that Karachi hat-trick, his bowling form nosedived, with his pace dropping significantly, and he struggled to make both the Test and ODI teams by the time 2006 had ended. He was sent back from the tour of South Africa in 2006 to focus on domestic cricket. He made the 2007 World Cup squad but didn't figure in a single game during India's disappointing campaign, and was thereafter dropped from both the Test and ODI sides.
Recalled for the inaugural World T20 in September 2007, Pathan did not disappoint, snapping up 10 wickets at 14.90. His crucial spell of 3 for 16 in the final against Pakistan earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.
Irfan returned to the ODI side for the home series against Australia and Pakistan, and showed he had rediscovered his rhythm, based on which he was handed a recall in the third Test against Pakistan in Bangalore. He celebrated his comeback by making his first Test hundred. He was subsequently picked for the Test series in Australia, and came into the side for the third Test in Perth, where he played a crucial part in India's famous win - with five wickets and scores of 28 and 46 to claim the Man-of-the-Match award.
Irfan lost his place in the India squad in 2009 and subsequently struggled with loss of form and injuries. A back injury forced him to spend eight months on the sidelines after the 2010 IPL, and he missed the entire domestic season. That did not stop him from being bought for $1.9 million by Delhi Daredevils at the 2011 IPL auction in January. After a mixed IPL season, he impressed during the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy, and was the leading wicket-taker after four rounds of the tournament. His performances earned him a recall to the national side when he was picked for the final two ODIs against the West Indies in December, 2011. He came into his own during the one-day series in Sri Lanka in 2012, finishing as the highest wicket-taker and most economical bowler. He played the 2012 World T20 - also in Sri Lanka - and played all of India's games in the tournament, before injury struck once more.
Irfan has played no international cricket since then, but remains, like his brother Yusuf, a sought-after name at the IPL. He has had stints at Kings XI Punjab, Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad, as well as an injury-ravaged 2015 season where he did not play a single game for Chennai Super Kings. With Super Kings suspended for two years, the new franchise Rising Pune Supergiants acquired Irfan at the 2016 auction for his base price of INR1 crore.
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