As he was about to board his flight at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, on his way to Bengaluru on Monday evening, the aircraft pilot walked up to Irfan Pathan to click selfies.
After the cricketer agreed to oblige him, the pilot asked Pathan why he was not a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this time around. He laughed and quietly walked towards the boarding gate.
There was a sense of excitement showing on his face. But Pathan tried hard to wrap the emotions with seriousness. After all, none of those fans had an idea that Pathan was actually heading to Bengaluru to revive his IPL career, this time for the Gujarat Lions.
With Dwayne Bravo ruled out for the season, the Gujarat franchise needed someone who could contribute with all-round performances. And, that’s how it zeroed in on the local boy to fill in for the West Indian. “I heard from the Gujarat Lions on Sunday evening, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Pathan told Sportstar .
After Sportstarfirst reported about the development on Monday, even Pathan took to Twitter to confirm about his participation in the IPL. But soon, the tweet was deleted because the official contract was still not signed. The formalities were completed only on Tuesday morning. Mumbai cricketer Ankit Soni was also brought in to replace injured Shivil Kaushik.
But all that didn’t stop the India international from hitting the ground, donning new colours. “I am confident. I have had a good domestic season, and I am looking forward to delivering the goods. All I need is a good start,” Pathan said.
The Gujarat Lions has had a forgettable outing so far, and the team would be hoping for Irfan to fire. “We have a good side. My job is to contribute to the team’s success. This is going to be an important season for me, and I am ready for the challenge. I need to be ready for everything. I come with an open mind. Things can change quickly. You have to get going,” Pathan said, adding that he is not ready to dwell much into the past. “It was disappointing to have gone unsold in the auction, but I am grateful to Gujarat Lions for the opportunity.”
Even though he is out of the India team for a while now, the younger Pathan comes with a vast experience in the IPL. Having played for five different franchises, Pathan has grabbed 80 wickets from 102 games, apart from 1,137 runs with a strike rate of 120.57. Though he had a terrible outing for the Rising Pune Supergiant last season — scoring only 11 runs in three games and going wicketless — Pathan is ready for the new challenge. “In IPL, every game matters,” a rather gritty Pathan said.
While chances of Pathan playing his first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday are high, the seasoned cricketer is a bit cautious. “I will take one game at a time. That’s the whole idea,” he said with a smile.
After going unsold in the IPL auction, Pathan had gone for a break to charge the batteries, and now, as he gears up for another IPL season, Pathan can’t help but thank his stars.
Just like life, cricket too is one big puzzle!
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