What is the definition of success? How do you define a successful career? This question has been asked for centuries and we are still struggling to come up with an answer. Indian cricket has produced stalwarts such as Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and now Virat Kohli, but it is humanly impossible to emulate them and many cricketers have fallen by the wayside and Yusuf Pathan is one of them.
Life has often been challenging for this Baroda born hard hitter. First, he was being identified as Irfan Pathan’s brother despite being the older one and starting his domestic career way before Irfan Pathan. Yusuf has always relied on brute force and power and made his name as a player, who liked to bludgeon the ball to all parts of the ground and was a seriously good first-class player for his Ranji side Baroda and was counted as a reliable and consistent player. After toiling in domestic cricket and living under the shadow of his much-famed brother, lady luck finally shined on Pathan and he was selected in India’s squad for the inaugural World T20 in South Africa, 2007.
It is every cricketer’s dream to play in the final of a world tournament and senior Pathan’s dream came true when he made his debut against Pakistan in the finals at the Johannesburg by replacing injured Virender Sehwag and gave India the early impetus and wore world cup winner’s medal. Next, the cash-rich Indian Premier League came to town and it changed Pathan’s life completely and made him a household name. Pathan understood the T20 format like the back of his hand and was ransacking and hitting huge sixes left, right and center and was winning matches with the utmost contempt for the cricket ball. On the back of scintillating form for IPL champions Rajasthan Royals (2008) Pathan got selected for India’s ODI side and after all the years of toil Pathan was finally reaping the benefits and now was known as Yusuf Pathan and not as the brother of Irfan Pathan.
Life and karma can’t be predicted and just when you think you have sorted everything out you get a kick up the backside and everything evens out. Pathan was now a regular member of the Indian team and was performing his role admirably and was also being thought as a Test selection in the mould of Virender Sehwag. Just before the 2011 World Cup, Pathan played brilliantly in South Africa and was one of the few shining lights of a disappointing tour. During the World Cup Pathan somewhat inexplicably lost his place to Suresh Raina during the league stages and didn’t play in any knockout matches altogether.
After the euphoria of World Cup win, Pathan entered a dark phase and once a brilliant stroke player became confused and started doubting himself and was not being his natural self. Pathan’s case wasn’t helped by captain and selectors not being forthright in their communication and slowly but surely, the lanky all-rounder was losing his grip on the team and was becoming a surplus to the team’s requirements.
The six-hitter last played for India in 2012 and deep down must know that his India days are behind him. Cricket is a game which is played between the ears and sadly for Pathan, he lost his mojo and the dedication also started to wear off. Yusuf Pathan will go down as a player who could strike fear into bowlers with his big built and presence and always played with a big smile on his face and was always a team player. Pathan played with a gay abandon approach and has two world cup titles to show and it would be apt to say that days of world cup glory have been replaced by anger and life in the wilderness.