Didn’t want to tour Pakistan in 2003: Irfan Pathan on series with India U19 that changed his life

Didn’t want to tour Pakistan in 2003: Irfan Pathan on series with India U19 that changed his life

Irfan Pathan swinging his way to become the second Indian to claim a Test hat-trick and the first to do it outside home against Pakistan in Karachi is one of the most cherished memories of Indian cricket fans. Pathan, who toured Pakistan for the first time with the senior Indian side under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy in 2004, has delivered many memorable performances against the arch-rivals. He was also the Player of the Match in 2007 T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in Johannesburg too. The former India all-rounder, therefore, surprised everyone when he revealed he did not want to tour Pakistan when the opportunity came knocking on his door for the first time.

Irfan who made his debut for India in Australia at the age of 19, made his name as a swing bowler when he picked up 9 wickets in an U19 match against Bangladesh in 2003 in Lahore. But the left-armer revealed that he had no intentions of going for that tour as he wanted to play a Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai for Baroda.

“I didn’t want to come on that Pakistan tour. We had a match against Mumbai in Ranji Trophy. I told Shetty sir that it’s a match against Mumbai, I’m in good form. So if I perform against them then my name will definitely start doing the rounds. But he said ‘no India are touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years. You’ve played U19 before so you have to go.’ I went there disappointed to be honest but who knew what was in store for me,” Pathan told Raina in an Instagram live session.

“I remember the Lahore match when you took 9 wickets with two hat tricks and everybody started talking about you. But you by God’s grace after you played that match in Pakistan you were selected for the Australia tour,” said Raina.

Pathan’s immediate success in that tour fast-tracked him into the Indian Test side for the Australia tour and the Baroda boy made an impact straightaway by getting the big wickets of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden.

“I remember the reverse swinging Yorker to dismiss Gilly, you also got Haydos out,” added Raina.

The due also discussed their first U19 tour to England under Gnaneswara Rao’s captaincy.

“I was telling the viewers that you and I debuted together for India U19. The England tour when Venugopal Rao’s brother Gnaneswara Rao was the captain.

“That your was a memorable one. It was my first international flight. We had some terrific players in Ambati Rayudu, Chandrasekhar Atnam, you, the ‘keeper from Bengal Paul, they were all very talented. It was 2 and a half month tour and full of fun.” Said Raina.

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