Irfan Khan Pathan born 27 October 1984) is an Indian cricketer who made his debut for India in late-2003 and was a core member of the national team until a decline in form set in during 2006, forcing him out of the team. Since then, he has been in and out of the limited-overs team, and has only sporadic appearances in Test cricket. He is currently the 8th highest wicket taker for India in the ODIs and highest wicket taker in the Twenty20 Internationals.Beginning his career as a left-arm fast-medium swing bowler, Pathan broke into the national team soon after turning 19, and evoked comparisons with Pakistan’s Wasim Akram, regarded as one of the finest left-arm pacemen of all time, with his promising performances and prodigious swing.
He cemented his position in the team and was named by the International Cricket Council as the 2004 Emerging Player of the Year. In late-2004 he took 18 wickets in two Tests against Bangladesh, but the start of 2005 he performed poorly and conceded runs at a high rate, leading to a brief exile from the one-day international (ODI) team. Immediately thereafter, Australian Greg Chappell, one of the leading batsmen of his time, became India’s coach and identified Pathan’s batting potential. The bowler improved his batting skills to become a bowling all-rounder, and he opened the batting on occasions in ODIs and scored 93 in a Test match in the role after an illness to Virender Sehwag. He made three scores beyond 80 in the space of four Test innings. For the first nine months of Chappell’s stint at the helm, Pathan performed strongly with both bat and ball, scoring runs regularly and frequently taking top-order wickets. He rose to No. 2 in the ICC’s ODI rankings for all-rounders and was also in the top five in the Test rankings. This led critics to compare him to former Indian pace bowling allrounder Kapil Dev. In early 2006, Pathan became the only bowler to take a Test hat-trick in the first over of the match. However, the productive run did not last and after the start of 2006, Pathan began to steadily lose pace and swing, and his wicket-taking dwindled.
Although Pathan’s batting continued to be productive, he was not regarded as a specialist and was dropped from the team in both Tests and ODIs by the end of 2006, and by 2007 was no longer in the squad. He returned to international cricket in September 2007 for the inaugural World Twenty20, where he took three wickets and was man of the match as India beat Pakistan in the final. This earned him a recall into the ODI team, where he was a regular for most of the next 12 months before being dropped as his economy rate continued to trend upwards and subsequently struggled with a loss of form and injuries. In late-2007 Pathan was also recalled into the Test team after 19 months and hit his maiden Test century, but could not maintain his place in the team as his bowling was not effective enough with only two pacemen needed. Pathan played is last Test for India in April 2008 against South Africa. He continued to perform with both bat and ball at the domestic level, although his sedate pace is frequently criticised as being irrelevant at the international level. However, he impressed during the 2011–12 Ranji Trophy, where he was the leading wicket-taker, and his performances earned him a recall to the national side again.Irfan Pathan, along with players such as Vinod Kambli and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, was included in the list of “India’s lost boys” by Shashi Tharoor.