Irfan Pathan was one of the best all-rounders who played for India since the retirement of Kapil Dev. The left arm swing bowler was amazing with the ball and handy with the bat, good enough to regularly bat at no.3 for India in limited overs for quite a period of time.
However, form and injuries derailed a career that was destined for greatness, but the first man to take a hat-trick in the first over of a Test match; Irfan Pathan has not forgotten the people who helped him in his career.
One such person is former Pakistani captain and widely regarded as the best left handed fast bowler Wasim Akram. In an interview with sportstarlive.com, Irfan Pathan talked in detail about his mentor and idol Wasim.
Irfan said, “When I first met my childhood hero, Wasim Akram, in Adelaide in 2004, there was no way for me to record those moments. There was no photographer around and it happened all too sudden. But then, I distinctly remember each and every bit of it.”
Irfan continues, “I bumped into Wasim bhai at the breakfast table one morning. He was in Australia as a commentator and after garnering enough courage, I walked up to him for a chat and some tips. He welcomed me with a smile and made sure that I did not feel uncomfortable. He spoke to me politely and in a way as if we knew each other for years. I have been a big fan of his and every time I saw him on television, I would make it a point to observe his approach towards the game.”
Irfan recalled the moment he asked Wasim for tips.
“I owe him a lot. So, on that day, after a while, Wasim bhai was getting ready to hit the ground with Ashish Nehra — who had asked him for some tips.this was the perfect opportunity to learn a thing or two from one of the best bowlers of all times. So, I politely asked him: “Can I join you guys? Wasim bhai looked at me, smiled a bit, and said: “Of course, you can…”Irfan says.
Irfan says, “I think Wasim bhai knew that I would make such a request. During that session, he guided me on how to maintain a proper line and length. He also advised me on how to intimidate a batsman during pressure situations.”
Irfan continued, “During our tour to Pakistan, I met Imran Khan at his residence. It was a memorable experience, but even today, I fondly cherish the memories of meeting Wasim bhai for the first time. For a newcomer, it was a lifetime experience. As a child, I would never like it when Wasim Akram would dismiss Indian batsmen, but as a fast bowler, I have always looked up to him as an inspiration.”
“Thanks for the memories, Wasim bhai!” Irfan concluded.