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Cricket

The other Irfan Pathan -
11/2/2016 9:49:25 AM

Irfan Shafi Pathan represented Baroda from 1999-00 to 2008-09
Irfan Shafi Pathan represented Baroda from 1999-00 to 2008-09

To spot Irfan and Yusuf Pathan's house in Vadodara wouldn't take much trouble. It is a landmark in itself, situated amidst many other smaller and less grand independent houses. Opposite their bungalow, goes a narrow lane - Chand Baug - where resides another Irfan Pathan. Popularly known as 'Railwawale Irfan Pathan', he is a left-arm fast bowler who played for Baroda, too. Not too long ago, the careers of the two Irfan Pathans coincided.

"See brother, there were two Irfan Pathans who have played in Indian domestic cricket - senior and junior. I'm the senior Irfan Pathan and the one who is unfortunately not playing for India now, is the junior one," the protagonist of the story made it clear at the start of the interview.

Sadly though, for a cricketer whose career lasted nearly a decade, no one at the Moti Baug Stadium, where he played all his junior cricket, remembers him. Questions about Irfan Pathan's residence are always met with the same answer - the one big, white bungalow which the locals pointed out.

After a painstakingly long search under the scorching Baroda heat, an old man made a clear distinction. "Irfan Pathan stays in that bungalow. If you're looking for Irfan 'bhai' Pathan, he stays there," he said pointing towards a small row house. "He works for Railways."

Irfan Shafi Pathan's record in domestic cricket is an impressive one for a fast bowler. He represented Baroda from 1999-00 to 2008-09, picked up 74 wickets in First-Class matches at an average of 28.25 and 27 wickets in List A at 21.85.

"His father had just one dream. He wanted his sons to play cricket and make him proud. Irfan is still involved with the game. Usne apne baap ka naam raushan kiya hai (he has made his father proud)," his mother remarks.

Irfan's father was a sports lover. Although, he never played cricket, he wanted his sons - Irfan and elder brother Rizwan Khan - to pursue the sport. Having seen them do well while playing with the kids at Railway Colony, he decided to enrol them in a club. When Irfan was 15 years old, he took them to Mehdi Hasan Sheikh, the person who also coached Irfan and Yusuf Pathan.

"There used to be days, when they would return as late as 9 PM from coaching. I used to get really scared. But their father would reassure me that the boys were training with a lot of diligence."

However, tragedy struck not long after. "The two brothers were going for practice. Woh dono zidd kar rahe the ki cycle chahiye. Tab unke abbu ne kaha tum mera naam raushan karo, mein tumhe cycle la doonga (The two brothers wereadamantthat they wanted a bicycle. That time, their father told themthat he would get one the day they make him proud)," his mother narrated.

"Un bechaaron ke paas ek cycle bhi nahi tha (Those children didn't even have a cycle). So I told my husband, you've received your Rs 15,000 salary yesterday. Please go and get a cycle for them in the evening."

Unfortunately, that evening, Shafi Pathan suffered a heart attack and passed away. The loss didn't deter his sons from pursuing the sport, and they believed they could bring honour and fame for the family. Irfan finished his graduation and took up a job with Indian Railways. Rizwan, who too was working with Railways by then, couldn't make it big in cricket. Nonetheless, he continued representing his employers in corporate matches.

Irfan did well for whatever time he could, before a foot injury cut short his career at the age of 31. Even after he recovered, he never played for his side again.

"I retired early. There was a lot of competition for me. Irfan was there, Zak (Zaheer Khan) was there, Rakesh (Patel) was there. So it was difficult anyway. Aur baaki to aap samajte ho (And you understand the rest)," he said.

The fact that her son couldn't go on to play for India, didn't turn Irfan's mother bitter. The fact that he is still involved with the game makes her proud and happy. "Wo waale Irfan ka toh acha hua. He went on to play for India, my son couldn't. But, maybe that was Allah's wish. He does everything for the better."

Post-retirement, Irfan coached at various age-group levels of the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) - Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19, before moving on to coach the BCA Universities.

"Maalik ne jitna diya, utne se khush hu mein (I'm happy with what God has given me). I got to play as per my talent. There is no regret. Today, I get to coach these kids and impart whatever I've learnt from the game to them. Rishi Arothe, Hardik (Pandya) and all have played under me in age-group cricket. Their success gives me a lot of satisfaction"

"I had the option of becoming a match referee or an umpire or something. But I chose to coach because I wanted to stay connected with the game."

Even today, Irfan and Rizwan represent Railways in B League matches. However, the fact that Irfan is touring around the country for most parts of the year isn't something that has gone down well with his twin sons. The news that his side has won and their stay at Sagar - where the BCA University matches were being held - has extended, only irritated them further. The two seven-year-old boys weren't too pleased with his father's team winning too many matches.

They are perhaps too young to understand their father's profession and passion, but when they do, they will be proud, just like their grandmother has been.

The two Irfan Pathans are very good friends
The two Irfan Pathans are very good friends

The Irfan Pathan connection

As per the narration of his mother, the two Irfan Pathans are very good friends. "Irfan is getting married in two months. That time, my son won't have an option, but to take a four-day leave to attend his marriage," Irfan's mother says with sadistic love.

"Irfan and I have been room-mates many a times. So our bonding has been good. Even today, when Yusuf and Irfan go to practice in the nets, they call me. I am still fit and can bowl fast," the broad-shouldered 6'4" left-armer says.

Despite the obscurity that surrounds Irfan Shafi Pathan in the cricketing world, inside the four walls of the house, the family is proud of his achievements. They don't know about his cricketing statistics, but he is a figure they want their next generation of kids to look up to.

"Chota wala bahut achi service karta hai. Railway mein kaala coat pehenkar ticket check karta hai. Bahut acha post hai, ache mukaam par pahuncha aur baap ka naam raushan kiya (Irfan is doing a job of honour. He wears a black coat and checks tickets in trains.)," his mother says. " Rizwan too wears a black coat and waves flags in Railways."

"Today, children refer to him as 'sir'. He is very strict and they are scared of him, but he gets a lot of respect from them. Today, he has a car and a better house. More importantly, he has fulfilled his father's dream and is still involved with cricket. Aaj Allah ki dua se woh kaha se kaha pahunch gaya. (God's grace has helped him achieve a lot).

Nalin Khaitan and the baby called Gemini Arabians -
11/2/2016 9:48:47 AM

For Nalin Khaitan, the CEO of the Gemini franchise, the MCL venture has been closest to his heart
For Nalin Khaitan, the CEO of the Gemini franchise, the MCL venture has been closest to his heart

"Cricket is something I'm absolutely in love with. Doing something in the sport was always my dream, and I'm living my dream."

When an endeavour is embarked upon, fuelled by passion, it is little surprise that it will attain success as has been the case with the Gemini Arabians in the inaugural edition of the Masters Champions League.

"I've been interested in cricket for the last 20 years and have been playing regularly," Nalin Khaitan, the owner and CEO of the franchise told Cricbuzz sitting in the stands of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium while watching his team bat against Virgo Super Kings. "This is a whole new level that we've taken our love for cricket to. My dad used to play cricket back in India. I started training at the Madan Lal Cricket Academy in Delhi and then I shifted to Dubai and started team Interface which is a local club team. Now we have Gemini Arabians."

With a squad that contains luminaries like Virender Sehwag, Brad Hodge, Kumar Sangakkara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Muttiah Muralitharan, Saqlain Mushtaq and Kyle Mills among others, it looked strongest on paper. That did, eventually, transcend onto the cricket field as well given that Gemini are undefeated in the tournament until theknock-outstage with each of them working in great tandem with the other.

"I think the advantage we have over other franchises is that I myself play on these pitches regularly," said Khaitan. "In Sharjah, in Dubai, you don't need somebody bowling at a 140 kmph plus. You need somebody with some good slower deliveries that's why Rana Naved and Kyle Mills have been useful. On slow pitches you obviously need spinners. You don't get any better than Murali and Saqlain in that.

"And I went for batting heavy as the top order is what scores you the runs. It was all very well-thought. We had done a mock auction as well. We spent a lot of time in trying to build a proper team and we've executed it quite well."

Gemini, however, has not just been clinical in every department on the field which has seen them find different ways of winning, but the franchise has been run in the most proficient manner off it. With clear roles and responsibilities assigned, the lack of chaos has certainly played a part in the success story of the team while other franchises are seemingly grappling with a lot of extraneous issues.

"I've only implemented what I do at my local club level to the team and it lookslike it's working fine," Khaitan said. "The feedback that I get from the players is that they are quite happy and satisfied. I personally don't involve myself in the game. I let Viru take care of the players and the team. What I can contribute outside the playing time, I can do. I've let people know their roles and I let them take charge."

The junior Khaitan has been in the industry of telecom and mining for the last 10-11 years, having followed his father's footsteps right out of school. This venture, however, has been closest to his heart. Not just on the cricketing front, but also on the personal front where he has learnt much and is all pepped up about things that can be done differently the following year.

"We had a meeting with the general secretary of Dubai Cricket Council to see how we can improve UAE cricket," Khaitan said, briefly distracted by Chanderpaul throwing his bat at a delivery, quite literally as the ball went flying towards gully. "That's interesting," he exclaimed before getting back to what we were discussing earlier. "So, during that meeting, there was a mention of the MCL and I loved the concept. We've all grown up seeing the IPL and Big Bash and I'm thought to myself why not have a team of our own? And if it is happening in UAE we shouldn't be left behind."

And they weren't left behind in any way plausible as they're at the forefront both on and off the field. "I'm lucky to have a great bunch of guys (cricketers). They make my job so much easier. They're not a difficult lot at all. They're very cooperative, very helpful. It's our first time too and we tend to make our mistakes and instead of cribbing about it, they guide us through it. So the experience has been fantastic and we're looking forward to the next year where we feel we'll try and do better than what we've done."

When Sehwag had said at the start of the tournament that his side had the advantage as it was an all-round endowed side, it wasn't underplaying the opposition, but knowing Gemini's strengths, which, going by their performances so far in the tournament was evident in itself. They breezed through most games and found ways of winning in tougher ones. However, going into theknock-outs, all teams start with a clean slate.

Gemini do have what it takes to see the league through, but will they hold fort when it matters most? Khaitan would most certainly hope so as it's not just his franchise that he cares about, but in the larger scheme of things, he has one eye out for cricket in the United Arab Emirates.

ICC 'removes' Kotla as World Twenty20 venue, restores it later -
11/2/2016 9:47:59 AM

Kotla is scheduled to host four World T20 games apart from women's World T20 matches.
Kotla is scheduled to host four World T20 games apart from women's World T20 matches.

In a major goof-up, the International Cricket Council (ICC), on its official website, removed Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla from the list of venues for the 2016 World Twenty20, which gets under way in less than a month's time. The glitch was set right by Wednesday afternoon (February 10) but not before causing a flutter in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA).

Kotla is scheduled to host four World T20 games apart from women's World T20 matches. But the venue has been dogged by controversies lately and its status as a host remains under question.

The ICC, in a rush to declare the final fixtures list, not only removed Kotla as one of the venues but also named Nagpur and Bengaluru as replacement centres.

The BCCI, however, was clueless about the development. "We have not made any changes to the World T20 venues list yet. Kotla is very much scheduled to host the matches. I will need to have a word with ICC regarding these fixtures," Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI's game development manager, told TOI when informed about the new list of fixtures.

Anurag Thakur, BCCI secretary, has said last Friday that the board already had a `Plan B' in place in case the DDCA failed to come up with required civic clearances in time in order to host the games. It seems that ICC's goof-up has revealed this plan a little ahead of schedule.

Within half an hour of TOI's call to Shetty, Kotla was restored as one of the seven venues. "It must have been a communication or technical error which resulted in this mistake. The correct fixtures are back on the website. The call for change of venues has to come from the host board, in this case the BCCI. We can't make that decision. If there are any changes in venues, ICC will be the first to inform the media," an ICC source told TOI.

However, ICC's explanation seems a little hard to fathom because alternate venues were also mentioned in these new fixtures. The group games had been allotted to Nagpur while the second semi-final scheduled for March 31 had been given to Bengaluru.

Hilariously, in their hurry to correct the mistakes on the website, ICC has made more goof-ups - the new list of fixtures now shows Kotla hosting India's match against a qualifier on March 23rd, a game which is scheduled for Bengaluru. Besides, the original lineup has England taking on a qualifier at Kotla on the same day.

DDCA officials too expressed surprise at the development. "The BCCI hasn't told us anything about moving the World T20 games out of Kotla. In fact, they asked us to send them a copy of our communication with the local civic body to ensure that games can take place without a hitch.

"We have told them the process of getting clearances is on and all renovation work will be finished in the next 10 days. We're confident that we'll get the final completion certificate," Chetan Chauhan, DDCA vice-president, said on Wednesday. "We have removed some seats and raised the height of the railings, so the stadium is up-to-date

Live Cricket Score of Bangladesh U19 vs West Indies U19, 2nd Semi-Final at Dhaka - Live blog : Bangladesh elect to bat first -
11/2/2016 9:47:20 AM

Steady start: 

Bangladesh aren't off to a flyer. They have lost their opneres. But they are just working the ball around and picking easy singles. They haven't looked to score big boundaries.

Early strike: 

West Indies have strike early as Chemar Holder finished Pinak Ghosh's 10-ball stay at the crease. He pulled a short-pitched delivery straight to the fielder at fine leg.

Toss: 

Hosts Bangladesh have won the toss and elected to bat.

Teams:

Bangladesh U19 (Playing XI): Pinak Ghosh, Saif Hassan, Joyraz Sheik, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehedi Hasan(c), Zakir Hasan(w), Mohammad Saifuddin, Saeed Sarkar, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan Rana, Saleh Ahmed Shawon

West Indies U19 (Playing XI): Gidron Pope, Tevin Imlach(w), Shimron Hetmyer(c), Keacy Carty, Shamar Springer, Jyd Goolie, Keemo Paul, Michael Frew, Ryan John, Alzarri Joseph, Chemar K Holder

Hello and welcome to our live blog for the second semifinal of the ICC U-19 World Cup - between the hosts Bangladesh and West Indies.

Both the teams have had a contrasting run to the semis. While the hosts had been dominant in most of the games, West Indies were pushed into the corner by Zimbabwe in a do-or-die clash in the league stage. It was then that Mankading came to their rescue and Windies made it to the quarters but not before they had courted controversies. Going into today's game, Bangladesh have the advantage of conditions and crowd support. However, Windies have some match-winners in their ranks and the raw pace they possess can rattle the opponents. West Indies would also hope that the demons in the slow pitch stay away. It promises to be a thrilling encounter.

Bird recalled for first Test against New Zealand -
11/2/2016 9:46:02 AM

Bird named in the playing XI for the first Test, ahead of James Pattinson.
Bird named in the playing XI for the first Test, ahead of James Pattinson.

Australian team has named Jackson Bird in their playing XI for the first Test against New Zealand, ahead of fellow pacer James Pattinson, on Thursday (February 11).

Bird, who made his debut against Sri Lanla in Melbourne, hasn't featured in the Australian line-up since the fourth Ashes Test in Chester-le-Street, in August 2013.

Steven Smith, Australian captain, revealed that the national selectors were unsure if Pattinson was fit enough to resume bowling duties in the longest format after spending nearly a month out of action due to shin soreness. Pattinson picked up the injury during the third Test against West Indies in January, and missed the rest of Australia's home season.

The 25-year-old Pattinson returned for the Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania last week but had to withdraw mid way to fly out to Wellington ahead of Australia's Test series against New Zealand. He bowled a combined 21.3 overs across the first two days of the game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, taking 3 for 81.

"The selectors aren't 100 percent sure whether (Pattinson) would get through this first Test match," Smith said. "So that decision was made.

"I think Jackson Bird has been bowling extremely well. I saw him for the first time in the nets yesterday and I thought he bowled extremely well "I'm really happy with the XI we've picked and hopefully we can have a successful week."

Bird, who has played three Tests for Australia, has himself been struggling with a persistent back problem. The 29-year-old, however, made a successful return this season, taking 25 wickets from six Shield matches this season.

"He's always performed really well at Shield level and I think it's great that he gets another opportunity," Smith said. "He's bowling with quite good pace, he's hitting a good area and he's swinging the ball and swinging it late, which is a great attribute to have.

"If he can get the ball in the right areas in this Test match I think he can do a bit of damage. He runs in all day, he's quite tall so he hits the bat a little bit higher than you think and he generally hits good areas. I think that's really important in this Test series, particularly if the wickets are going to do a little bit. If we keep hitting those good areas, we're going to create a lot of chances and I think he can do that for us."

Australia have not tinkered with batting line-up as Shaun Marsh misses out yet again, while fast bowler Peter Siddle makes a comeback after the ankle injury sustained in the Sydney Test.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have named uncapped Henry Nicholls at number four in their batting line-up. Mark Craig is also set to be back in the final XI.

The pitch at the Basin Reserve sported a significant grass cover on the eve of the game and is likely to remain the same, and Smith has warned his batsmen to be on alert.

"We haven't been good enough with the bat on wickets that have been doing a bit in the last year or so," he said, hinting at the Ashes disappointment in 2015.

"The wicket here looks like it might do a bit so we've got a bit to prove and we've got to adapt accordingly, a lot better than we have in recent times."

Australia XI: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird

New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell