April 25, 2012

NEW DELHI: Wasim Akram’s assertion that Yusuf Pathan’s poor run in IPL 5 has been caused by his axing from the Indian team post 2011 World Cup is interesting but logic-defying.

The Pakistani legend, who is the bowling coach of Team Kolkata for which Yusuf plays in the IPL, feels that the sack led to the player losing confidence which consequently caused his horror run in the IPL this season.

Akram went on to tell the media on Monday, “Why he was dropped is beyond me. The selectors didn’t do any favour to his confidence by omitting him. Pathan is a big-match player and will surely come good.”

One wonders why Akram is so scathing on Indian selectors who dropped Yusuf only after he failed to perform despite getting a fair run in the World Cup. Yusuf’s 74 runs at 14.80 from six World Cup games tell their own story. But more than the runs, it was the way he went about his business which diminished the team management’s confidence in him.

That Suresh Raina, who replaced him midway during the World Cup, played critical knocks in the quarterfinal and semifinal to help India reach the final, only magnified Yusuf’s failure.

Everyone knows Yusuf is a gifted strokemaker who can destroy any attack on his day. But he has not done justice to his talent by being reckless in the middle. Often, he throws his wicket away by trying a low-percentage slog very early in his innings.

After starting off as a sensation – he was one of the key factors in underdogs Rajasthan winning the first IPL in 2008 – Yusuf has become a misfiring missile who now finds himself at the crossroads. It’s no use stressing “it’s how he bats and one should not tinker with his natural style.”

Clearly, his “natural style” is not serving him well. The stats tell you as much — they are high on promise, a bit short on deliverance. And if Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir’s words are any indication, Yusuf may be in for a drop in this IPL too.

Even T20 slogging is not completely mindless. The big run makers all combine great skills with presence of mind and an awareness of match situation. And they know their game. Yusuf needs to keep his thinking cap on or else he will continue to commit hara-kiri as he has been doing, in T20 as well as in ODIs.

Akram suggests that India have lost a “match-winner” in Yusuf. The fact is the Indian ODI team has been full of match-winning batsmen like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kohli, Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina. Thus, losing one “match-winner” does not really dent India’s quality substantially.

If Yusuf gets back his form and consistency, India will only benefit. But that will not be achieved only through praise via the media.

Courtesy: Times of India

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