Yusuf Pathan struck the fastest half-century in IPL history © IANS
In the age where instant success is demanded from franchises who splash out big money for marquee players around the world, Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR’s) backing of Yusuf Pathan, despite inconsistent performances in recent years, should be lauded, feels R Vishal.
Before the Yusuf Pathan’s brutal 72 off 22 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, he had gone through a lean spell. After India’s ICC World Cup 2011 win, the Baroda batsman featured only sporadically at international level and was completely discarded not long after. Yusuf’s nature and philosophy of batting meant that brute force, rather than cricketing acumen took precedence. Trying to go for the expansive whack into the gallery, he hardly justified his role of a finisher.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) meanwhile decided to stick with the tried and triumphant core and that has paid rich dividends in IPL 7 so far. We have seen how a similar kind of stability worked wonders for Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. As far as Yusuf is concerned, there is precious little a coach can do to refine a batsman who steps on a pitch to go hell for leather from ball one. Shahid Afrdi is a classic case in point. Like Afridi, Yusuf rides his luck. With Hyderabad’s appalling fielding display, the power-hitter got two lives and made the opposition pay.
Patience has worn thin in the Kolkata camp before. Yusuf was dropped before being brought back to lend the lower middle-order depth and balance. Plus, the older Pathan is playing with a much straighter bat while clobbering the ball and it reaped rich dividends. Yusuf is also showing an attempt to break away from the brash and flaky nature of the past. After being responsible for running out Ryan ten Doeschate, he took on the responsibility to take his team over the finish line. He struck an incredible five fours and seven sixes in his innings.
This one of a kind knock, which included reaching the fastest IPL fifty, may not promise a turnaround of fortunes. As many tales in IPL’s history have unfolded so far, persistence is paramount for long term success. Yusuf’s stratosphere-defying timely heroics to take Kolkata to the second place in the IPL table stands testament to that.
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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)