Irfan Pathan announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday. Since then, many cricketers, his former teammates included, have been congratulating him on a successful career and wishing him all the best for coming times. Pathan himself has opened up and spoken about how he feels regarding his career.
But now, the former Indian all-rounder has made a startling revelation about an aspect of his playing days that few fans would have been aware of. Apparently, not only was Pathan a capable bowler and batsman but could also sledge when required.
Speaking in an interview after announcing his retirement, Pathan reminisced about an episode in his playing days where he indulged in verbal jousting with none other than legendary Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara. While sledging usually involves gentle asides at each other's ability, this time things became very personal between the two players.
"I remember one of the stories with (Kumar) Sangakkara. We were playing in Delhi. I scored about 93 in the 2nd innings when (Virender) Sehwag got injured. I was sent up the order. At that time, Sangakkara knew the match was going away from them. (Muttiah) Muralitharan was bowling really well. He was just trying to tell me something very nasty.
"He said something personal, I said something personal to him. I said something about his wife, he said something about my father and my mother. At that time, we were not happy with each other," Pathan revealed.
The reason this incident seems rather shocking is because both Irfan and Sangakkara are known to have been gentleman cricketers who conducted themselves with great dignity on the field. However, this incident proves that even the most polite of men can become slightly unhinged when the pressure of a game gets to them.
Kumar Sangakkara himself retired from international cricket in 2015. His last ODI match was the World Cup quarterfinal against South Africa that year and the last Test was played a few months later against India on home soil.
Irfan Pathan has been a regular member of BCCI's host broadcaster's Hindi commentary team and has been working as an analyst also. Speaking about his career, Pathan did express a little bit of regret that he couldn't achieve more during his playing days.
"People start their career when they are 27-28 and then go on to play till 35. When I was 27, I had taken 301 international wickets, so that was it. That is the only regret I have."
It was in late 2003 that a 19-year old Irfan made his international debut during the Adelaide Test against Australia. He soon became a leading strike bowler for India with his brilliant left-arm swing abilities. As a batsman also, he showed great promise and even ended up scoring a Test century. However, his career went off-rails towards the end of the decade and never recovered.
Still, Indian cricket fans will have a very fond memory of Irfan as a player who played a key role in taking the Indian team towards glorious heights of success.