Irfan Pathan had a fabulous match against Pakistan in an U-19 cricket game that catapulted his rise into the national team. Such was his prodigious swing and at that time also pace, that the national selectors were forced to rope Irfan in the Indian team. His big chance came under the most difficult of circumstances, L Balaji got injured and it was the Test tour of the most difficult place, i.e Australia.
Australia boasted of Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Gilchrist etc in their batting line up and an inexperienced rookie had no chance. However, Irfan Pathan was not going to be bogged down by that pressure and in fact, he set the world on fire in his very first tour. He regularly nicked off the likes of Langer and Hayden, giving India a good start.
Later, Sourav Ganguly told Irfan how he almost missed the bus on that tour as Ganguly thought it wasn’t the best idea for a 19 year old rookie to make his debut in Australia as that could dent his confidence for good and have a catastrophic effect on his career. In a freewheeling chat with Sports Tak, the former Indian all rounder remembered the story.
“Australia tour is really tough tour. When a 19-year-old player goes there, he gets a lot of beating. I remember Dada also told me after the tour was about to come to a close, that ‘Irfan you might not know, but I didn’t want you to come on the tour. I had rejected you in the selection meeting,” Irfan Pathan told Sports Tak. “Not because I had seen your bowling. But because, I didn’t want to take a 19-year-old player in such a difficult tour to Australia. But when I saw you, I was sure that you would do well’,” Irfan Pathan revealed.