Irfan Pathan was often used as a pinch-hitter in his international career. The all-rounder was handy with the bat which made him a regular feature in the side. It was under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid, Pathan was sent out to bat at No. 3 in ODIs on various occasions. After his success at number 3, he even opened the innings several times for India.
Everyone at the time thought that it was then head coach Greg Chappell who had given this role to Pathan. Chappell who had a controversial stint as Indian coach often was known to do things out of the box. However, Irfan Pathan lately revealed that it was Sachin Tendulkar, not Chappell who had the idea of him batting at the top order.
Tendulkar backed Pathan to come good at No. 3 because of his ability to hit big shots against the fast bowlers from the get-go. Master Blaster urged captain Dravid to which he agreed and Pathan walked out to bat at 3 for the first time in 2005 against Sri Lanka. In the first ODI match of the series, Pathan took India home as he played a brilliant knock of 83 from just 70 balls.
Sachin recommended me to bat at No.3 – Pathan
“I had said this after I had announced my retirement as well. Those who talk about Greg Chappell spoiling my career, by sending me as an allrounder at No. 3 and all these things… Actually, it was Sachin Paaji’s idea. He advised Rahul Dravid to send me at No. 3. He said ‘Irfan has the power to hit sixes, can take on the new ball and can play the fast bowlers well too”, Pathan told Raunak Kapoor on his channel Beyond The Field.
He added, “It was tried for the first time in the series against Sri Lanka when Muralitharan was at his peak, and the idea was to attack him as well. Dilhara Fernando back then had started the concept of the split-finger slower ball. Batsmen didn’t understand that too well, so the belief was if I could pull it off, it could work in our favour, especially since it was the first match of the series.”
Irfan Pathan also pointed out that Greg Chappell was not the one who spoiled his career. He believes since he was not from India and as a result, was usually an easy target and people used him as a punching bag. Pathan in detail explained why he wasn’t able to play regularly for India post-2008.
“It’s not true that Greg Chappell spoiled my career. Since he was not from India, it is easier to make him a punching. The people who have really harmed me, about that I’d just say that they didn’t support me the way they should have,” Pathan said.