He was happy to open the batting, says Irfan Pathan, but he knows his main job is to pick wickets
India’s decision to promote Irfan Pathan to open the innings against England in the Group A encounter of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 did not fetch immediate success, yet his presence, after being out of national reckoning for close to two years, has given Mahendra Singh Dhoni the liberty to experiment with the team composition.
“The move did not work out, as I did not score too many runs. But I was looking forward to the challenge and when my team said I had to open, I said yes I am happy to open,” said Pathan.
However, Pathan, who in the past had to carry the burden of the all-rounder tag, is clear about his primarily role in the current team set-up, “Obviously bowling is my main job, and I am happy with the way things are going so far,” said Pathan.
The flexibility allowed India to field five bowlers against England, and more importantly, paved the path for the return of Harbhajan Singh into international cricket after a year. Harbhajan’s figures of 4 for 12, the best bowling returns by an Indian in T20Is, helped India bowl out England for 80 in their pursuit of 170.
Pathan, who provided the early breakthroughs with two wickets in the first three overs, credited the bowlers of the effort, “All the bowlers bowled quite well and Harbhajan’s comeback has been outstanding. After we took the early wickets, he did not allow any batsman to take advantage and get a start again,” said Pathan. “He had good variations and also Piyush Chawla did well. Playing five bowlers did help.”
The problem of plenty has now left MS Dhoni in a difficult situation of finding a role for Virender Sehwag in the team in the Super Eights. “I really do not know about the combination of the team in the future. All the games will be very crucial. We need to make sure that we win at least two of the next three games, and take it from there,” said Pathan, somewhat non-committal.
India’s first opponent in the Super Eights will be Australia, who they play on Friday, 28 September. “Everyone knows that they are a dangerous side. They have started well with David Warner and Shane Watson doing well but it is still early stage,” said Pathan.
“If we can get early breakthroughs, their side can actually be very gettable.” Pathan added, “They have quite a few younger guys in their team, so they are a bit inexperienced compared to other sides in the tournament. They are a top-heavy side, so we need to make sure that we get early wickets.”