There have been many men in Indian cricket but none have been as explosive and entertaining as Yusuf Pathan. It has been years since his cricketing career has followed a stagnated pattern. A pattern where he creates no news in the domestic circles of cricket and on comes IPL and he sets the stage alight with match winning performances. Whenever he has donned a franchise jersey be it for the Rajasthan Royals in the past or for Kolkata Knight Riders, form seems to find him. But unfortunately this season his ‘IPL form’ has deserted him as well.
Yusuf Pathan has scored a meagre 143 runs at an average of 17.87 and strike rate of 124.34 in the 15 matches he has played in IPL 2017. He has not been able to finish off matches in crunch situations which is hurting the team even more in the absence of Andre Russell. Off the 143 runs he has scored this season 59 have come in one innings in which he showed some promise as he and Manish Pandey stitched a century stand to get their team out of a precarious position at 21-3 in pursuit of 169 runs against Delhi Daredevils. Yusuf did not finish off that game as well as he gave his wicket away needlessly which almost cost KKR that game as it went right down to the wire from a position where KKR were cruising.
Then why are KKR still persisting with him? Because, it has been KKR’s policy to back their players and decisions ever since they overhauled their team in 2011 and have believed in the investments they made and Yusuf Pathan has been one of them. With two IPL titles since, it is fair to say it has worked for them immensely. Yusuf Pathan had quite a hand behind one of those title victories as he had been in good form for KKR in 2014 and scored a crucial 22 ball 36 in the final. He also came good for the Rajasthan Royals in the final scoring a 39 ball 56 down the order which helped them clinch the inaugural season’s title. With such mileage in play off matches behind his name it is highly unlikely that the KKR team will give him the axe at this stage.
Recently in an interview, Gautam Gambhir said that the team had backed Sunil Narine to come good even when he was going through a troubled period after he had to remodel his action. So it is not surprising to see the team back their tried and tested player and for cricket fans with fading memories of a 37-ball century which was then the fastest century way back in IPL 3, it would be a pleasing sight too see Yusuf back at his best.