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Rediff.com  » Sports » Why Irfan is not in the Test squad

Why Irfan is not in the Test squad

February 13, 2009 18:44 IST

The Indian Test team for the upcoming tour of New Zealand was on expected lines save the inclusion of Mumbai rookie pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, who was rewarded with a berth because of a splendid showing in the domestic season during which he claimed 42 wickets at an average of 22.02 and an economy rate of 2.94.

But the inclusion of Laxmipathy Balaji in the squad ahead of Irfan Pathan may prompt the question: why the Tamil Nadu pacer and not the left-arm medium fast?

If we compare Irfan's Test figures with other four bowlers who have made it to the squad, it seems that Irfan has been shabbily treated (see table below). After all, he enjoys the second-best average among the five, has achieved the best bowling performance, his strike-rate is the best, has the most five-wicket innings hauls and is the only one to take a 10-wicket match haul.

Player Mts Balls Mdns Runs Wkts Best 5WI 10WM Avg SR
I Sharma 15 2668 82 1390 44 5-118 1 0 31.59 60.64
I Pathan 29 5884 212 3226 100 7-59 7 2 32.26 58.84
M Patel 9 1890 68 940 28 4-25 0 0 33.57 67.50
Zaheer Khan 62 12269 415 6707 197 5-29 6 0 34.05 62.28
L Balaji 8 1756 64 1004 27 5-76 1 0 37.19 65.04

Thus, what is the reason for Irfan not finding a place in the Test squad?

Delve a little deeper into the above figures and you will find the answer.

Irfan's tally includes 39 wickets in four Tests against the weakest sides -- Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. If we compile a new table for all the five bowlers without the performances against the minnows, this is what we will get.

Player Mts Balls Mdns Runs Wkts Best 5WI 10WM Avg SR
I Sharma 14 2590 80 1341 43 5-118 1 0 31.19 60.23
M Patel 9 1890 68 940 28 4-25 0 0 33.57 67.50
Zaheer Khan 51 10515 365 5674 160 5-29 5 0 35.46 65.72
L Balaji 8 1756 64 1004 27 5-76 1 0 37.19 65.04
I Pathan 25 5115 179 2775 61 5-61 1 0 45.49 83.85

Pathan's average increases by more than 13 points, he bowls 25 more deliveries for each wicket and is left with only one five-for and no ten-wicket match hauls!

No other bowler in the list undergoes such a drastic change in the performance.

Besides, Irfan, who was not picked for the Tests against England at home last year, is also not in the pink of form for the grind of five days.

Rajneesh Gupta