Sachin paaji happy, mission accomplished for Irfan Pathan

Coming in at a time when India was five wickets down in pursuit of 139, Pathan struck a quick-fire 57 to help India Legends remain unbeaten in the tournament.

Irfan Pathan and Manpreet Goni celebrate after helping India Legends cross the finish line.   -  Vivek Bendre

Irfan Pathan rolled back the years on Tuesday evening with a quick-fire 57 off 31 deliveries and guided India Legends home in a rather close UnAcademy Road Satefy World Series fixture against Sri Lanka Legends.

Coming in at a time when India was five wickets down in pursuit of 139, Pathan had a challenging job in hand. But the former India pace ace — who is known for his big-hitting — held his nerves and crafted his innings with six boundaries and three sixes.

As he walked back to pavilion, the first thing Pathan asked his team-mates was, “Is Sachin (Tendulkar) paaji happy?”

After all, having played with Tendulkar for long, Pathan knows how particular Tendulkar is about every aspect of the game. “When you play with a legend like Sachin Tendulkar, he ensures that every match is played seriously. We have to respect whatever paaji  says and we follow that. He wants us to give our best,” Pathan said.

“After the game, I had a word with Paaji, and he was very happy. That was a very special moment for me,” Pathan said. Tendulkar is the captain of India Legends team.

A seasoned campaigner, Pathan retired from all forms of the game in January this year. But he returned to action after quite a while and admitted that it was a bit challenging to get into the shape. “We had very little time for training. There were hardly four sessions before the first game,” Pathan said. “I was in Russia before coming for the tournament, so in that extreme seasons, I tried bowling a couple of overs. It was snowing, but I wanted to get going. When you haven’t bowled for a year, it gets challenging…”

But at a time when the top batsmen were dismissed, how did he keep his cool and guide the team home?

“I just wanted to try out a few things that we were doing in the nets. I even told the manager (Atul Ranade) that if I get one opportunity, I will win the match for the team. Luckily, I could connect the ball well,” Pathan said, revealing that he played with Yuvraj Singh’s bat.

“I am thankful to him for lending me the bat. When the pressure was mounting, I was looking for one big over and that finally came our way. Luckily, we got that”

The come-from-behind victory helped India Legends remain unbeaten in the tournament.

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