A genuine all-rounder who could swing the ball both ways, to playing handy knocks at the tail, Irfan Pathan was feared and admired every time he took to the field.
Popularly called the Swing King, Irfan Pathan announced his retirement today in an exclusive show on Star Sports – ‘Farewell Irfan: The Swing King’.
A hat-trick in the first over of the Karachi Test against Pakistan in 2006 made the world sit up and take notice of the youngster from Baroda. A year later, Irfan put in a man-of-the-match performance in the final against Pakistan as India won the inaugural World T20 title.
Announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, Irfan Pathan shared the news with his fans LIVE on Star Sports where he answered questions and discussed his plans post-retirement.
Irfan Pathan spoke exclusively to Star Sports’ – on a special show – Farewell Irfan: The Swing said, “You have to say goodbye to things you love, and cricket is something I used to dream about day and night and to which I now have to say goodbye. I want to thank my family, my coach, my teammates but most importantly I want to thank my fans. 2012 was the last time I played for the Indian team, I tried a lot of times after that to make a comeback and even today on social media I get messages saying please come back to the team. It’s for all this love and support that I would like to thank all my fans who have been with me throughout my journey and now it’s time for me to move on to my next journey.”
Speaking on his favourite experience playing for the Indian cricket team, Irfan Pathan spoke exclusively on Star Sports saying, “The first time I received the cap of the Indian cricket team was the most special moment for me. That particular moment is so close to my heart because you don’t know which direction your career will go. So, getting that cap for the first time from your senior for an opportunity to represent your country, will always be one of the most special moments of my life.”
One of Australia’s most feared batsman for any bowler, Matthew Hayden, who was also Irfan’s first Test scalp, while recollecting his moments with Irfan Pathan says, “Three words to define Irfan Pathan are passionate, loyal and inquisitive. I remember his first test wicket was my demise, it was a great little out swinger, made me commit on to the front foot, I tried to play and go with the swing through extra-cover but I got knicked off and got out”.
Rahul Dravid, one of India’s finest batsmen and captains under whose captaincy Irfan played, hailed the former all-rounder’s attitude towards the game said, “We had heard about Irfan long before he got into the Indian team, we heard about this young exciting fast bowler from Baroda who was making waves in Indian cricket and playing for India in U19. I wish Irfan all the best and hope he has a great life ahead of his retirement and look forward to seeing him soon.”
Anil Kumble, one of India’s craftiest bowlers and a former India captain under whom Irfan Pathan played said, “He is extremely talented, great team man and a great guy off the field. The Perth test match (2007) was something very important for Indian cricket after what had happened in Sydney. He got Stuart Clark right at the end because Mitchell Johnson and Clark were threatening to get the runs in the final innings and Irfan got him out. He was someone who you would love to have in a team, he was never afraid to go out and take up any challenge, be it with a ball or with the bat. You’ve been a champion Irfan I wish you a happy retirement.”
One of Irfan’s earliest bowling coaches, TA Sekhar’s says, “The first time I saw him in 2001 along with Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation, he looked like a very challenging bowler and we knew that he was going to go places”
While speaking of his memory of Irfan Pathan, Bollywood star Suniel Shetty’s said, “He was a true star, a sporting star, good looking, fit and a lefty-right combination that was fantastic. If today, you talk about the Indian team missing that one pace bowler and all-rounder batsman, its Irfan Pathan,”
One of the chief architects of India’s win in the Finals of the first ever T20 World Cup Final, Gautam Gambhir on his favourite Irfan Pathan memory said, “Irfan Pathan was part of the team and was also the Man of the Match. He was the one who won us the World Cup by taking 3 wickets including getting the dangerous Shahid Afridi out for a duck.”
His career graph had been phenomenal during his tenure with the Indian cricket team as he contributed to some crucial victories in major series and tournaments since 2003. As Irfan calls time on his career, he leaves behind a rich legacy in the Blue of Team India.