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Yusuf can play a crucial role in ODIs - Column by Renin Wilben
by Renin Wilben
Nov 19, 2008
Yusuf Pathan, who made a blitzkrieg half-century on his 26th birthday in the Indore ODI against England, proved that his form in the IPL was not a flash in the pan. More importantly, he showed that he is capable of delivering what is expected of him. Post the growing popularity of Twenty20, many cricketers are being branded as T20 specialists. And there was an imminent danger that Yusuf too could end up falling in that category. But the knock at Indore, that included some massive hits, should put a stop to all such thoughts at least for the moment.

Yusuf, Irfan's elder brother, can be of great value to Indian cricket if utilized properly. And there can be no Indian captain who can understand this better that the current Indian skipper MS Dhoni. In fact, he has already started exploring Yusuf's talent. In the first game against England, he was sent in up the order after India got off to a rollicking start. And though the move did not pay off, it was evident that Dhoni had earmarked the hard-hitting batsmen to be the floater in the side. He can either come in at the top of the order and destroy attacks or take on the bowlers in the slog over, which is exactly what he did at Indore.

India also have a pretty useful option as an off-spinner in him. True, he is not in the class of a Harbhajan and hence cannot be classified as an all-rounder. But he can definitely be asked to fill in on days when Harbhajan or Sehwag have a bad day in the office. Ever since Kapil Dev left the scene, India have struggled to find a genuine all-rounder. Many like Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan promised but were not consistent enough. Lately though India have been lucky to have the likes of Dhoni and Sehwag around, who can contribute in more than one department of the game. What's more even Harbhajan and Zaheer have perked up their batting which has done India a lot of good. And now the emergence of Yusuf means there are more options for India. Flexibility is one of the key factors to succeed in one-day cricket and Yusuf brings that to the table for Indian cricket.

Also impressive is the confidence he has in his ability. India were under a bit of pressure when Harbhajan and Zaheer were run-out within a short span of time. India were in danger of being bowled out. But Yusuf held his nerve and ensured that India batted out their entire of overs. The manner in which he built the innings was also heartening. Often big-hitters just come in and go for the slog right away. But Yusuf bided his time and got his eye in before taking on the Englishmen. This mature kind of cricket is another aspect among the upcoming youngsters that will hold Indian cricket in good stead in the future. And the final over when he destroyed Harmison with some massive blows was a special effort and gave ample illustration of his talent.

But even amidst all the praise, Yusuf has to make sure that he doesn't get carried away by success. It doesn't take long for things to go wrong in international cricket. And Yusuf won't have to look too far for an example. It's a story he has seen from close quarters - the rise and fall of Irfan Pathan. While Irfan can still make a comeback and he surely will, Yusuf would do well to ensure that history does not repeat itself in the Pathan household.
 
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