Irfan Pathan will always remain a folk hero, an unfulfilled dream, and an enigma that captured the hearts of the cricketing folklore for fun.
Irfan Pathan burst on the international scene as a 19-year-old during the 2003-04 tour of Australia where his precocious left-arm seam and swing along with ferocious pace, not to forget his curly long hair, captured the imagination of the fans as well as pundits.
And, it did not take much time before Irfan Pathan was compared to the legendary Wasim Akram.
In a recent Instagram live session with Irfan, Suresh Raina went on to reminisce about those days when the left-arm fast bowler was being hailed as the next Wasim Akram in the making.
“Everybody used to compare you (Irfan) with Wasim Akram. The long and curly hair, almost like the brand ambassador of head and shoulders. When I came into the Indian side in 2005 you were already such a big name, very famous,” said Raina.
Irfan Pathan claimed 301 wickets and scored 2649 runs for India across formats
Incidentally, it was on the succeeding tour of Pakistan in 2004 where Irfan Pathan went on to establish himself as the next big thing in world cricket and it came against the backdrop of Javed Miandad’s comments that bowlers like Irfan are found in every nook and corner of Pakistan.
“I remember Javed Miandad saying something like bowlers like Pathan are there in every street of Pakistan. My father, I remember, reading that news, he didn’t like it at all,” Pathan had said earlier.
Miandad’s comments backfired on Pakistan substantially as Irfan proceeded to always save his best against the arch-rivals throughout his career, whether it was his hat-trick in the Karachi Test of 2006 or his match-winning spell of 3-16 in the final of the 2007 T20 World Cup.
However, injuries and lack of support by the team-management meant that the southpaw could never realize his true potential and eventually retired earlier this year, eight years after having last played for the national team.