Shakib Al Hasan (left) and Yusuf Pathan for Kolkata Knight Riders © AFP
Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Sunrisers Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) needed 161 off 15.2 overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to ensure they finished second in IPL 2014 Points Table and gain a place in the qualifiers. KKR were staring at a defeat at one stage but Yusuf Pathan ensured the chase was complete in six lesser balls than the equation. Gautam Gambhir had described the 22-ball 72 as something “never seen before”. Earlier in that game, Shakib Al Hasan bowled beautifully (4-0-25-1) for KKR to restrict SRH.

KKR made it to the qualifiers and two games later, they lifted the title for the second time.

In 2016, Yusuf and Shakib were involved in a record 134-run fifth wicket stand against Gujarat Lions. Shakib and Yusuf go a long way back. In 2011, both were acquired by KKR. Both the all-rounders enjoyed a good time for the Knights, winning the IPL titles in 2012 and 2014. Now they find themselves in Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) squad for IPL 2018. SRH, champions of the 2016 edition, have managed to build up a strong side for the current edition. With similar skill-sets, will there be a competition between Yusuf and Shakib for a place in the XI.

“Shakib has been a good friend and he is a great all-rounder. We played together at KKR as well, so I consider him to be more of a companion than a competition. Together we will look to contribute to the success of the team,” Yusuf told NDTV, dismissing the notions of competition with the Bangladeshi skipper.

Yusuf has three IPL titles under the belt. Two with KKR and one with Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the inaugural edition where he played a massive role in the side’s success. He recalls his seven-season long journey with KKR fondly but believes it is time to move on.

At 35, the time may be running out for the Pathans but Yusuf believes that he and his little brother, Irfan, can still make it to the national side. It has been six years since Yusuf donned the national blues. The return is a step-by-step process and IPL is the stepping stone.

Yusuf is a handy off-spinner and one of the hardest hitters of the ball. So how does he view his role as an all-rounder.

Yusuf adds, “Be ready to bat at any position. Be ready to bowl in any situation. An all-rounder is like the spine of a team. If you perform you will be there, if not then there are many in the line for the job.”

“Hardik needs to work harder”

Baroda’s Pathans aren’t in vicinity for the Indian blues but their state teammate Hardik Pandya has made it big as an all-rounder and drawn comparisons with the legendary Kapil Dev. Yusuf wants the youngster to work harder and not be compared with big players.

Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2018, preview: Not quite title favourites after David Warner oust
Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2018, preview: Not quite title favourites after David Warner oust

“He needs to work harder. We should give him more time. This is just a beginning for him. Most important thing is that he shouldn’t be compared to any big player. This will create pressure on him. Let him play in his own style,” Yusuf added.

SRH received a huge blow days before the start of IPL 2018. David Warner’s involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa not only earned the southpaw a yearlong ban from Cricket Australia but also from BCCI, who barred him from participating in the cash-rich league. Warner’s absence will see Kane Williamson taking the charge as SRH captain. They will begin their campaign against RR on Monday, April 9.