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Yusuf Pathan’s IPL career has been of stark contrast. He has played for two teams – Rajasthan Royals and now Kolkata Knightriders, has won a trophy with both. With Rajasthan, under the leadership of Shane Warne, we witnessed the development of a brute force while the same player has looked a mere shadow of himself ever since he has sported the purple and gold. It’s tough to figure out why, his magic seems to have faded and it seemsthat India have lost out on a big talent and we don’t know the reasons for it. At least no reason has been good enough to convince me.
I have often heard stories about how ineffective he is against quality short stuff. Players like Sourav Ganguly, Steve Waugh and even Suresh Raina have had the same weakness but they have managed to counter it, some very successfully while some just did manage, but the weaknesses didn’t ring the knell to their careers. Yusuf’s century in one of the ODIs in South Africa at a bouncy Centurion track in 2011 is perhaps one of the best hundreds I have seen from an Indian. So short stuff isn’t the only reason. He has given the impression of not thinking about his game enough. Perhaps it’s got to do with intelligence. For Kolkata, he hasn’t looked as involved as he did for Rajasthan but Gautam Gambhir and the KKR management has shown immense faith in him. Though very late, but it finally paid off and ironically, the team against whom he played was Rajasthan. Yusuf’s unbeaten 49 on Friday may not be his best IPL knock, but this might very well be the knock ,which changes things for him. The knock, which led to the Kolkata win, ensured that the defending champions still have a bleak chance of making to the play-offs. Cricket is a funny game and though KKR has hasn’t looked the most balanced, they may still pull it off from here. The Kolkata win has opened up the tournament and has done a favour to the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who face Delhi Daredevils in Saturday. The track wasn’t the best to bat on and KKR have a good team for the conditions at Eden and they have played well at home. The Eden crowd have come out in good numbers and have supported the team. One of the surprises this season has been Rajasthan’s Sanju Samson. On a track, where we saw most of the batsmen struggling, he seemed to be at ease and top scored for Rajasthan. He is just 18, and if he has his head in the right place, he has a long way to go.
Brief Scores KKR 133 for 2 in 17.2 overs [M Bisla 29(25), J Kallis 33(30)*, Yusuf Pathan 49(35)*] beat RR 132 for 6 in 20 overs [S Watson 35(35), S Samson 40(36), O Shah 24(22), S Senanayake 4-0-26-2, S Narine 4-0-20-1, R Bhatia 4-0-21-1) by eight wickets