In 2008, the nation was introduced to the cash-rich tournament, Indian Premier League. The now discarded and controversial personality, Lalit Modi and BCCI’s invention was an instant hit and caught the attention of spectators with international players playing along and against each other. They also saw the birth of domestic players every season. If the history of IPL will be looked over again, the first edition gave immense stars but one man ruled the roasts completely. The elder of the Pathan brothers, Yusuf Pathan, who made an all-round performance to contribute to his then team Rajasthan Royals’ maiden IPL trophy.
The Vadodra-lad had an impressive outing with Shane Warne-led, Rajasthan Royals and dismantled strong bowling attacks in the premier edition of the T20 league. He complied 452 runs and also contributed with his off-spin to take 8 wickets in the 2008 season. The most striking factor of his has been that he has always chipped in when the chips were down for his side. He scored the fastest fifty of that season and also was adjudged the man-of-the-match in the grand finale against Chennai Super Kings. He proved himself as a big-match player on the international level but as many others, he hasn’t done much when he has worn the blue jersey for India.
In the next few seasons, Yusuf again came back into his best with a 37-ball 100 in the third season of the IPL. He was rewarded for his performance and made the vice-captain of the team. Shifting from Rajasthan Royals to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) did not harm his clean hitting. He has become a permanent member of the team who handles their middle-order in crisis. KKR have retained him in the hard times and he has repaid their faith more often than not. A player like Yusuf is not always in form but his impact remains big, if and when he clicks. KKR know this fact well and that is the reason they have become one of the most sorted out teams since the 2011 edition.
To KKR’s fortunate, Yusuf has been in a terrific touch in the ongoing IPL 2016. He played valuable knocks against Gujarat Lions, Rising Pune Supergiants, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad in their must-win clashes. He made 37 runs off mere 15 balls against RPS, came in to bat when KKR were struggling at 15 for 2 against Gujarat Lions and added an unbeaten 134-run stand with Shakib al Hasan. In their first match against RCB, when all seemed lost for KKR, Yusuf again played the anchor role along with Andre Russell and took them to an unlikely victory. He has raised his hand and showed his value.
In their last group stage match against Sunrisers, he again stitched a crucial partnership with Manish Pandey and took his team to a respectable total. Particularly in this edition, Yusuf’s consistency has stood out. He has been their crisis man since the first match of the season and has taken responsibility of their lower middle-order single handedly. Yusuf’s composure and calmness has been noticed by one and all and earned praise from commentators like Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar.
Returning back to the Indian side may still be difficult for the 33-year-old man but he is surely the crisis man for any team he plays. If his team performs, he always has a big role to play with his clean hitting ability and stroke-play. KKR have used him well over the years knowing he is not Mr. Consistent but still he has delivered. He proves it time and again that he is not yet done as a performer and his utility cannot die down soon.