Irfan Pathan had his fair share of battles against arch-rivals Pakistan during his playing days. There was something about the prospect of playing against Pakistan that always brought the best out of the prodigiously talented former Indian all-rounder.
Irfan impinged himself in the folklore with a breakout tour of Pakistan- his second tour with the Indian cricket team- in 2004. During that tour, Javed Miandad, the then Pakistani coach had ridiculed Irfan’s talent, saying that bowlers of his class are found in every nook and corner of Pakistan.
That statement of Miandad backfired substantially throughout Irfan’s career whether it was the 2004 series or the successive rubbers in 2005 and 2006, where he claimed a Test match hat-trick or the final of the 2007 T20 World Cup in Johannesburg.
Everyone remembers Irfan Pathan’s hat-trick in Karachi during the 2006 series but not many people talk about his match-saving 210-run partnership with MS Dhoni during the 2nd Test at Faislabad.
Irfan Pathan’s ploy to sledge Shoaib Akhtar eventually worked in India’s favor
Irfan had come into bat at a time when Shoaib Akhtar, who had dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for 14, was breathing fire.
“When I was coming out to bat, Akhtar was bowling at a rapid pace of 150-160 kph. I went down and joined Dhoni and asked how’s the pitch is behaving, he responded by saying, ‘nothing much, you just bat’,” Irfan Pathan revealed in a recent Instagram Live session with Sports Tak.
He added: “I faced Akhtar’s first ball and it was a bouncer and couldn’t even see the ball. Somehow we tried to negate his spell. We tried building our partnership and after sometime, Akhtar again came for a new spell,”
With Akhtar breathing fire, Irfan decided to take matters in his own hands. He asked Dhoni to just laugh at Akhtar every time he said something to the fast bowler.
“Akhtar was sledging. ‘Agar baat das hai toh woh bees bolenge’. I told Dhoni ‘I will sledge Akhtar and you just laugh at him’ and Dhoni agreed to it. Akhtar continued sledging us and the ball started to reverse,” Irfan reminisced.
Irfan’s jibe was then followed by a typical Shoaib Akhtar threat.
“That was the time, I sledged Akhtar saying ‘paaji, agla spell me utna hi jaan lagegi?’. Akhtar responded angrily saying, ‘Bahut zyada baat kar rahe ho, tereko mai utha lunga idhar se’. He somehow completed that spell and that was how we drew that Test,” he added
The tactic, however, worked brilliantly as Dhoni  and Pathan  put Akhtar and other Pakistani bowlers to the sword, helping India eke out a 15-run lead in an eventually drawn game.
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