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A lethal Indian left-arm pacer is likely to explode on to the world stage: Irfan Pathan

The former India player feels it is important to have a leftie flame-thrower in the team who can swing the ball both ways and torment opposition batsmen.

March 25, 2023 / 10:41 PM IST

“One left armer will be ready for team India after this IPL is over…” tweeted former India left-arm medium-pacer and left-handed batsman, Irfan Pathan, after the Rohit Sharma-led team was bundled out for a paltry 117 in the second ODI against the Aussies, in Visakhapatnam.


Australia left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc has been a thorn in India’s flesh for many years. He demonstrated his chops yet again in the first two ODIs, picking up three in the Mumbai ODI and five in Visakhapatnam.

To have a left-arm pacer in any team is more than a luxury, and the Indian team had an abundance of it at one point of time in the 2000s, when Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, and Irfan Pathan posed challenges to the opposition batsmen.

While Pathan did not reveal the bowler he had in mind, he told during an exclusive chat that the gent bowled close to 140 kmph and that he had been watching him closely for a year and a half. Pathan feels he could be an asset to the team in the longer version of the game as well.

Take a look at all the IPL teams this year and you will find the following left-arm medium-pacers: Mukesh Choudhary in Chennai Super Kings, Chetan Sakariya and Khaleel Ahmed in Delhi Capitals, Pradeep Sangwan and Yash Dayal in Gujarat Titans, Kulwant Khejroliya in Kolkata Knight Riders, Mohsin Khan and Jaydev Unadkat in Lucknow Super Giants, Arjun Tendulkar and Mohd Arshad Khan in Mumbai Indians, Arshdeep Singh in Punjab Kings, Kuldeep Yadav in Rajasthan Royals, and Rajan Kumar in Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In IPL 2022, Choudhary gave a good account of himself in the Power Play and also in the death overs, picking up 16 wickets in 13 matches in what was his maiden IPL season. LSG’s Mohsin was impressive with 14 scalps in nine matches at an economy rate of under six, also in his maiden IPL season.
However, there are doubts over their participation in this year’s IPL due to injuries. Choudhary is undergoing rehab for a back injury, while Mohsin underwent surgery to remove blood clots in his shoulder.

That said, Pathan added: “There are many options. Quite a few in the IPL are quality names. I firmly believe that out of these options, at least one will show by his performance that he is ready to contribute provided he’s selected.

“I have seen one particular guy closely. The guy I am talking about bowls close to 140 kmph speed. He can swing both ways. That’s what you need, especially in the longer format. Even in T20 cricket, when you have guys with good left-arm angle, they can be a potent weapon. I hope that once the IPL season is over, the guy is ready.”

The 38-year-old Pathan, who played in 29 Tests, 120 ODIs, and 24 T20Is between 2003 and 2012, made it clear that not having a left-arm pacer did not mean India would struggle or not win.

“First of all, just having a left-armer to fill the gap does not serve the purpose. If you have a left-arm medium-pacer who can neither swing the ball in (to the right-handers) nor give breakthroughs with the new ball or the old ball, you might as well go with right-arm pacers,” the all-rounder from Baroda who appeared for five IPL teams – Chennai Super Kings, Punjab Kings, Gujarat Lions, Rising Pune Supergiant, and Sunrisers Hyderabad – said.

“What I am trying to say is if you don’t have a wrist spinner, it doesn’t mean you are not going to do well. Not having something doesn’t mean you will not do well. But if you have that option, it will add to the performance. We won the 2007 T20 World Cup without a wrist spinner in the playing 11. We had Harbhajan Singh, a champion finger spinner,” he explained.

It has been nearly 10 years since India won an ICC trophy and this is something that has been bothering the Indian team for a while. This is the year of the World Cup, and has India at best made it to the semi-finals in all that time.

India fielded the young Arshdeep Singh last year in the T20 World Cup in Australia. He was the highest wicket-taker for India with 10 wickets in six matches. However, neither Singh nor the other Indian bowlers could stop England’s Jos Buttler and Alex Hales in the semi-final in Adelaide.

“India has already one left-armer in Arshdeep, a fantastic lad who bowls both ways and is going to get better with time. His angle of run up needs to be better, which will allow him to bowl quicker. When trying to bowl quicker, he should not be losing his wrist and his swing. It will take time. He is still young. Right now, he plays only in T20s,’’ explained Pathan.

Talking about Undakat, Pathan said, “Jaydev has been a workhorse in domestic cricket. I thought that when Jaydev first came into the Indian team (Dec 2010) it was too early for him. He was very young in South Africa. I thought if he had played a bit more first class cricket, he’d have played longer for India. He’s taken so many wickets in the Ranji Trophy, and has made a comeback into the Indian Test team and ODI squad recently.’’

Pathan signed off saying that he did not want to put undue pressure on the left-armer by naming him. “I believe that a couple of left-armers playing in the IPL have the quality. If they have the quality and if they perform, their names will automatically come up. The coaches will keep an eye on them, the selectors will watch them closely. Let them talk through their bowling rather than me talking about him,” Pathan said.

Guru Krishnan
first published: Mar 25, 2023 08:22 pm