What’s the story?
Speaking to Sunil Gavaskar while fielding during his side's IPL match against Delhi Daredevils earlier in the day, the 34-year-old also spoke about how he has mellowed down over the years from someone who used to go after the bowling right from the word go to a player who is looking to spend a considerable time out in the middle.
”I enjoy batting on big grounds as I can hit the ball longer. With long boundaries, I know how far to hit. I can play my natural game. On smaller grounds I become nervous,” Pathan said in his response to Gavaskar’s query about the relatively small Feroz Shah Kotla ground where today’s IPL contest was being held.
Pathan went on to make a telling contribution later on in the match as his 110-run stand with Man-of-the-Match Manish Pandey helped KKR reach the top of the IPL standings with a four-wicket victory over Zaheer Khan’s side. Pathan’s 39-ball 59 proved to be a memorable knock not just for his side but also for him personally as it came on the occasion of his son’s third birthday.
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Promoted to the No. 4 spot where he enjoys a healthy batting average of 43 in the IPL, Pathan made the opportunity count with a trademark knock that helped KKR chase down the target of 169 set by Delhi Daredevils.
Along with Pandey, who remained unbeaten on 69 and helped his side cross the finish line with a ball to spare, Yusuf showed glimpses of his hard-hitting ability as well as the maturity to curb his instincts when needed after KKR were initially reduced to 21-3.
Even though the Baroda batsman couldn’t stay on till the end, giving rise to a nervous finale to the game. The all-rounder’s 13th half-century in the IPL was instrumental in helping KKR edge past Mumbai Indians to the top of the IPL standings with a better net run-rate over Rohit Sharma’s side – both sides having won four of their five matches so far.
The heart of the matter
At 34, Yusuf Pathan’s career as an international cricketer might well be over but he still remains an integral player for Gautam Gambhir in his KKR side that boasts of a number of all-rounders. He has found batting hard to come by in the ongoing tenth edition of the IPL with the players ahead of him in the batting order often getting the job done.
However, with a loss of few early tickets and as part of KKR’s tinkering with their batting line-up, Pathan found himself with a chance to impress and he did just that with his superb knock on Monday evening. There are very few cricketers who can hit the ball as cleanly as the Baroda cricketer, but he also showed that he can be equally adept at getting the scoreboard ticking without necessarily going for the big shots.
The knock comes just hours after he spent some quality time with his family on the occasion of his son’s third birthday and a Twitter post by his younger brother Irfan Pathan shows that it turned out to be an excellent day overall for the Pathan family.
Yusuf Pathan is a veteran of sorts in this KKR side but he showed today that he can still be a vital asset for the side on his day. Contrary to his comments, nervousness was hardly an issue as he played with ease at the Feroz Shah Kotla today.
Only time will tell though whether Yusuf continues to bat at the No. 4 spot as KKR take on Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions in their next IPL fixture on Friday.
Yusuf made what was already a memorable for himself personally even sweeter with his precious knock for KKR against DD.
His match-winning abilities are an asset to any side and considering his average in the 40s while batting at the No. 4 spot in the IPL, one feels that he should consistently bat at the same spot all the time. His words also seem to indicate that he prefers to play through the innings rather than going after the bowlers like in his early days.