Veteran campaigner Irfan Pathan is widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian all-rounders of all time. Having made his international debut at the age of 19 under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, the cricketer went on to deliver many memorable performances for the Indian team. However, Pathan recently revealed that he almost did not want to make it to a tour which eventually paved the way for his selection into the national side.
While speaking with Suresh Raina on Instagram Live, Irfan Pathan said that he did not wanted to tour Pakistan in 2003 for the India Under-19s side. He revealed that during the same time, he was playing for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and he did not wish to miss their match-up against domestic cricket giants Mumbai. The all-rounder eventually toured Pakistan after consulting an unnamed senior player about it and he ultimately gained much recognition after that.
Irfan Pathan joined up-and-coming stars like Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla and Dinesh Karthik in India’s U-19 squad for the 50-overs Youth Asia Cup 2003 in Pakistan. In the India U19s' match against the Bangladesh U19s, Irfan Pathan took figures of 9-16 to dismantle their batting line-up. The Baroda-based all-rounder also took a hat-trick in the same game. Overall, Pathan picked 18 wickets in India’s victorious campaign and he also scored 94 runs with the bat.
His performance brought him into the limelight and he made his international debut a month later under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy in Adelaide against Australia.
Apart from an Irfan Pathan hat-trick during his Under-19 days, the left-arm pacer also rocked the Pakistani top-order in the 2006 Karachi Test. He accounted for the wickets of Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf in the very first over on the opening day of the series-deciding match. With this feat, Irfan Pathan became the first (and only) bowler to take a hat-trick in the first over of a Test.
Irfan Pathan announced his international retirement in January 2020. The seasoned all-rounder played 29 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is since his Team India debut in 2003. The cricketer scored 2,821 international runs and bagged 301 wickets across all three formats. He was part of India’s victorious 2007 World Twenty20 campaign where he was adjudged as ‘Player of the Match’ in the final.