Big-hitting veteran Yusuf Pathan ready to brave the new game

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Former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan is all set to be a part of Abu Dhabi T10, scheduled from November 19 in the UAE. He will be a part of The Chennai Braves, a team that will feature for the first time in the league.

Cricket fans will be seeing him back in action for the first time since playing domestic cricket for Baroda in 2019. He too is equally excited to be back in action. He said, “I am working hard to give some joy to my fans during the Abu Dhabi T10. The tournament is a good opportunity for me to play for my fans.”

Yusuf Pathan is the older of the two Pathan brothers, who were only the second set of brothers to feature in the same playing XI for Team India. Born on November 17, 1982, in Baroda, Gujarat, his family had made a local mosque their home and its surroundings were Yusuf’s first playground.

After constantly being told off from playing cricket, their uncle introduced them to the sport properly and ensured the brothers got formal coaching. Yusuf was first picked in the Baroda U-16 team in the Vijay Merchant Trophy in 1999-2000.

His big-hitting caught the selectors’ eyes and soon made his way into the Baroda U-19

and the West Zone U-19 teams. Yusuf stepped into the Ranji Trophy scene in a game against Saurashtra in the 2001-02 season, and within a few years, he had managed to cement a place for himself in the team.

The 2004-05 Ranji Trophy season was particularly memorable for Yusuf, getting 17 wickets with a best bowling performance of 7/69 in a match. With the bat too, he had 286 runs to his name with a highest score of an unbeaten 92. That year, he was Baroda’s third-highest wicket-taker and fourth-highest run-scorer.

In the 2006-07 domestic season, Yusuf had the highest strike rate for Baroda at 89.83. That combined with good performances in the Deodhar Trophy landed him a spot in the 2007 World Cup.

He got to make his international debut in style – in the final of the inaugural T20 World Cup. He came in for an injured Virender Sehwag to open the batting and started with a six to Mohammad Asif and played a cameo that gave India much-needed confidence to take the game ahead.

Yusuf’s big-hitting has made him a franchise cricket favourite and he paid back Rajasthan Royals for showing faith in him in the 2008 edition of the Indian Premier League, scoring 243 runs and grabbing seven wickets. His efforts were crucial in helping the team lift the silverware.

His memorable IPL performances are a 21-ball fifty in the first edition, a 37-ball century for Rajasthan Royals where he almost managed to win the game in 2010, and a 72 (22) for KKR, helping the team win an important match.

A noteworthy point about Yusuf is that all these big knocks have come across various batting positions. Shedding light on the flexibility and how it will come in handy for Abu Dhabi T10, he said, “I have played at a number of batting positions during my career and I have always adapted to the team’s needs. The T10 format suits my game. However, my batting position will depend on the team’s strategies. I have always been open to batting at any position for the team.”

Yusuf has 4,825 runs and 99 wickets in his T20 kitty, the experience of which he will look to bring to the only ICC recognised 10-over format of the game. He opened up about playing in the upcoming tournament saying, “I am working hard to give some joy to my fans during the Abu Dhabi T10. The tournament is a good opportunity for me to play for my fans.”

His natural game has been hitting big. One can recall how potentially destructive he can be by revisiting his two ODI centuries – a 123 against New Zealand in Bangalore and a 105 against South Africa at Centurion, both of which helped India register thrilling wins.

The short format veteran seems to be excited to play the Abu Dhabi T10. On whether it will be different from other formats, he said, “T10 is just like any other format in cricket. One can’t just go out there and hit boundaries just because it’s a T10 game. One has to strategise which kinds of shots to play according to the situation in the T10 game as well. It’s very important for a player to handle pressure and adapt to the situation quickly.”

All of the Abu Dhabi T10 matches will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

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