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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NZ ODIs - Yusuf seals his place in Indias 2011WC team

Sanjay Manjrekar called him "an opportunist" but he wouldnt mind it a bit.

Gautam Gambhir, prior to the Bangalore ODI, had spoken of how the Baroda Bomber could do wonders if promoted up the order.

Yusuf Pathan, in his true humble manner, dedicated the knock to his brother Irfan, who is currently recuperating in the same city. If there is someone else whom the Senior Pathan has to thank, it would have to be the BCCI (surprise!!!), Shane Warne and the ones like Lalit Modi who conceptualized and successfully (no longer) ran the IPL for the first three years.

For, if not for IPL, Yusuf would not have got a chance to showcase his talent to the international audience. Thanks to Shane Warne's tactical use of Yusuf as a lower-order big-hitter, the Indian selectors decided to try him out in the ODIs. Though not very successful in the initial set of matches, Yusuf showed a lot of promise to the Indian team management with his batting skills. One saw him as the logical successor to the role that MS Dhoni used to do before his captaincy days. Being dropped because of his weakness against the short ball, Yusuf managed to make a comeback thanks to the rotation policy of the management.

During the Bangalore ODI, he showed remarkable restraint in taking the singles before the situation warranted the big strokes. The IPL has seen him engineer victories from situations very similar to the one he faced last night - a run-rate of 7-8 in the last 20 overs with 5 wickets in hand. Yusuf knew exactly how to achieve the target now. All that he needed was someone to stay with him and rorate the strike so that he could do the big-hitting. Sourabh Tiwary fitted the bill at the non-striker's end. As he stated after the match, at no time, he was thinking about failing to win the match.

Even though the Black Caps bowled some of the overs miserly, the big shots were a matter of when, if not how. Mills and later all the other bowlers, forgot the plot against Yusuf thanks to his astute decision-making. He selected the balls to hit and which ones to give the respect. There was no hint of panic on his mind since he was so clear about his target. The shot he hit of a low full-toss was the highlight of his innings while the one he pulled over the ropes to get to his century was indication enough that he had partially exorcised the demons in his mind. This was a wicket that had a bit of carry and the pitch had received some rain during the intervention. But, Yusuf was not to be denied.

Now, the selectors will breathe a bit easier. Their man for the 7th position is relatively settled - in fact, there will be a close call between Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli for the final slot. Based on the opposition and the surface, either one can be used. This is not to say that his defeciencies has been removed - on Indian pitches, a person of such talent cannot be ignored, especially after his match-winning knock last night.
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