Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yousuf blistering performance marks his arrival back to the Indian team

An unbeaten century and three crucial wickets. After being there or thereabouts for quite a while, Yusuf Pathan finally announced his arrival on the big stage with a splendid all-round show which helped India get over the line in the fourth ODI against New Zealand at Bangalore, hence keeping their hopes of a series whitewash alive.

A maiden ton and an innings studded with seven fours and seven sixes augers perfectly for Team India who are still in the process of finalising an ideal squad which will lead them to World Cup glory.

Even though the search for a genuine all-rounder continues for the Indians, Yusuf could probably fit the bill as a stop-gap arrangement at least for sub-continental conditions keeping in mind that India will host the bulk of the 2011 World Cup matches.

Regarded more of a T20 specialist in the early part of his career since making his debut in the finals of the 2007 ICC World T20 tournament, Pathan has since been attempting to cement a permanent place in the playing eleven of the ODI format.

Although a renowned hitter in the shorter version of the game, Pathan's weakness against the short-pitched delivery has been witnessed on numerous occassions. Having said that, he is by no means the only Indian batsman to struggle against the rising ball.

The entire unit was at sea during the ICC World T20 Championship in England in 2009 and it was well exploited by the opposition every time the Indians came in to bat.

Yusuf first came into the international limelight when he, along with younger brother Irfan, won a T20 game for the Indians against the Sri Lankans in Colombo early last year when the visitors seemed to be down and out.

Yusuf, who was a then a relatively unknown quantity in the global arena, snapped up two wickets and smashed 22 runs of 10 balls to end up with the man of the match award.

Coming lower down the order in ODIs, Pathan has a reasonable batting average of just under 30 with a stagerring strike rate of 110. He fares even better in the slam bang (T20) form of the game, where his strike rate exceeds 150.

Yusuf has also been a consistent performer for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL extrvaganza with a century to his name and an astounding 61 sixes in three seasons.

One might also add that Pathan is a prolific scorer in domestic cricket which was brought to light during his magnificent double ton which enabled West Zone to lift the Duleep Trophy by chasing down a record 541 in the fourth innings against South Zone.

Pathan can at best be termed as a part-time off-spinner, but his performance against the Kiwis towards the end of the innings in the Bangalore one-dayer indicates that he could possibly be groomed into a useful death bowler which could be priceless to the team's cause.

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