Yusuf Pathan has been struggling for form in recent times in IPL © IANS (File Photo)
Season after season, it is becoming difficult to recount sensational performances from Yusuf Pathan apart from the 37-ball ton in the first season. Abhijit Banare sheds light on the elder Pathan lost in the quest for quick runs.
It seems Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have finally run out of patience with Yusuf Pathan. Most batsmen would complain that they don’t get enough scope to score coming down the order with enormous pressure in either of the innings. But Yusuf is one player who specialises in batting under such situations. Normal batsmen take a look at the field before getting ready to face the ball, but Yusuf doesn’t necessarily need to trouble his necks much, but focuses on brute strength to clear the fence. However, dramatic you may describe Yusuf’s big-hitting, he has put up below-par performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for last few seasons.
With fresh auctions this season, most of the franchisees focused on buying their key players from previous seasons and Yusuf was one player on whom KKR had invested a long time in the past and had no hesitation in buying him back. And even then they knew the flip-side of having him. Perhaps, it was too much faith in a misfiring player.
He has played almost every match in the last three seasons with KKR. While the numbers aren’t impressive in the first two seasons, the average in the last season can be misleading as well.
For some reason, Yusuf seems to have failed to keep up with the changing dynamics of T20 cricket. Known for big bats and edges flying for sixes, the bowlers over the years have been equally skilful to find their way out. But for Pathan hitting out of the park seems the only intention. Even when the team has been in a comparatively steady position, Pathan has failed to check his aggression and wait for the right time to explode. And undoubtedly, it has been hurting KKR’s chances time and again. In Twenty20 (T20) cricket, the role of a finisher is worth in gold and KKR’s dream batsman for the job has failed to make a mark for the nth time.
Run-up to this IPL season:
Yusuf’s story before the IPL 2014 offers a different picture altogether. He hammered two half-centuries against Saurashtra and Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He played all of the domestic T20 matches on the tricky wickets in Mumbai. After one of the matches, having scored a fluent half-century, Yusuf said that he has had a good season this time around and the injuries have stayed sway unlike the two domestic seasons that preceded this. He had a great outing for West Zone in the Deodhar Trophy. Timing is one aspect that displays your form and Yusuf was having a great one. But the IPL was a different ball-game altogether. On pitches which sometimes are slower than usual, batsmen need to wait for their shots. Even Kieron Pollard has struggled to click. In such conditions, one size fits all style of batting isn’t going to make things easier unless you are in supreme form like Glenn Maxwell!
Another reason for Yusuf’s exclusion could be the rise of Suryakumar Yadav. For the first two matches, he played little cameos by throwing his bat around and ending up in awkward positions after playing them. But in the previous match in a lost cause against Kings XI Punjab, Yadav was single-handedly leading the chase and almost pulled off another solo win against RR. But Yadav’s aggression has given an assurance down the order which allows them to experiment with the playing XI. And their match-winner in the 2012 IPL finals Manvinder Bisla finds his spot. Barring Yadav, there hasn’t been any solidity in the middle order after Jacques Kallis at the top and it’s hurting their chances.
There was a time when Yusuf Pathan used to begin the bowling for teams. But Gambhir hasn’t used him this season at all. The declining pattern started last season where he bowled only nine overs in the tournament. If KKR’s team changes don’t yield results, Yusuf might still get a window of opportunity but even he knows that the toughest part is to impress at No 7. That was precisely his job and he has failed consistently so far.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)