Updated June 4th, 2024 at 18:29 IST

Yusuf Pathan: How Indian cricket's powerhouse all-rounder stunned 5-time Congress MP Adhir Ranjan

Right from his international debut during India's 2007 T20 World Cup final triumph against Pakistan, Yusuf Pathan has proven to be a "big match player". On Tuesday, one half of Baroda's famous Pathan brothers, is emerging as a big match player on the way more complex political turf.

Trinamool Congress candidate Yusuf Pathan | Image:PTI
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Right from his international debut during India's 2007 T20 World Cup final triumph against Pakistan, Yusuf Pathan has proven to be a "big match player".

On Tuesday, one half of Baroda's famous Pathan brothers, the other being charismatic former pacer Irfan, is emerging as a big match player on the way more complex political turf.

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The Trinamool Congress candidate is leading seasoned Congressman and five-time MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury by over 75,000 votes in what is being seen as a shocker from the Baharampur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. He could well turn out to be a giant-slayer going by the current trend.

"Uparwale ka rahem, karam bolein (Call this God's mercy, blessings), I always feel that I am for big matches, moments," Yusuf had said after accepting TMC's offer to switch to politics.

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"I just have to bat for them. I don't want to become a politician. I want to keep my image of a sportsperson intact. But after winning, I will work for my constituency and will make sure that I spend at least eight days in a month there," he had promised.

The 41-year-old is a first-timer when it comes to politics, his life so far has been defined by cricket where he earned the reputation of being a powerful and clean striker of the ball.

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Yusuf's switch to politics was, therefore, a surprise call, or in hindsight, a masterstroke by chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.

The duo had celebrated together at the Eden Gardens with team owner Shah Rukh Khanwhen Yusuf's IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders triumphed in 2012 and 2014.

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In a constituency which has over 66 per cent Muslim population, Mamata chose to pit Yusuf against the heavyweight Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Just a week before TMC released the list of its candidates, Mamata approached Yusuf and he was in two minds before finally agreeing, a fight former India captain Sourav Ganguly described as akin to facing Australian pacer Brett Lee.

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Besides Chowdhury, Yusuf had to take on BJP's Nirmal Chandra Saha, a known doctor from the region and also deal with the "outsider" barbs from the opposition.

But the former all-rounder took it upon himself and often repeated TMC's mantra of "Khela Hobe" (I'm up for a fight).

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That he always had a stomach for a fight was evident from his cricket career because compared to his younger brother, Yusuf was a late bloomer but when he did make his place in the side, he became an impact player much before the term became a regular in cricketing lexicon.

Four years after that momentous T20 World Cup triumph, Yusuf was seen lifting Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders in India's victory parade after winning the 2011 ODI World Cup.

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The dynamic all-rounder is one of the few cricketers to have won both the T20 and ODI World Cups, not to mention three IPL titles for two different franchises.

Born on November 17, 1982, Yusuf's journey to cricketing stardom is a story of perseverance and dedication, deeply rooted in his formative years in Vadodara.

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Growing up in the bustling neighborhood around the city's famous Jama Masjid, Yusuf and his younger brother Irfan were exposed to the challenges and struggles of life from an early age.

Their father, Mehmood Khan Pathan, worked tirelessly as a muezzin, calling the faithful to prayer five times a day.

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Despite the modest income and the demanding nature of his job, Mehmood Khan instilled a strong sense of discipline and faith in his children.

The Pathan brothers' love for cricket blossomed in the narrow lanes and small grounds around Jama Masjid.

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Their raw talent did not go unnoticed, and it was here that Yusuf's path crossed with Mehendi Sheikh, a local coach who would become instrumental in shaping his cricketing career.

Recognising Yusuf's potential, Sheikh took him under his wings, providing not only technical guidance but also emotional support and encouragement.

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Under his mentorship, Yusuf honed his skills, especially his powerful hitting ability, which would later become his trademark in international cricket.

A groin niggle to Virender Sehwag gave the burly Baroda-man a surprise debut against Pakistan on September 24, 2007.

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His contribution was minimal in India's only T20 World Cup success, but his aggressive intent and the knack of getting breakthroughs with his wily off-spinners quickly made him an India regular in the limited overs format.

Despite being the elder of the two brothers, Yusuf made his international debut three years after Irfan. This delay only fuelled his determination to succeed.

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His ability to turn matches around with his power-hitting and crucial wickets made him a vital player for India in shorter formats as he became a member of the MS Dhoni-led batch of 2011 that lifted the ODI World Cup.

But Pathan's most memorable moments came in the IPL, where he captivated fans with a scintillating 37-ball century against Mumbai Indians in 2010, one of the fastest centuries in the tournament's history.

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This remarkable feat, along with his key role in Rajasthan Royals' title-winning campaign in the inaugural season in 2008, solidified his status as a T20 legend.

Featuring in all matches in 2008, he scored 435 runs at a strike rate of 179.01 and took eight wickets.

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Pathan joined KKR in 2011 and became a permanent member of the team for seven years.

His only regret was not being able to feature in any Tests for India. He could well end up playing a long game in the field of politics though. 

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Published June 4th, 2024 at 18:29 IST