Yusuf Pathan was a name synonymous with powerful and lofty cricketing shots. With time, the intensity and frequency of the same shots dipped drastically. Just when critics were about to write him off though, the Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder stepped up his game - smashing 39 off 28 to help his team beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets on Sunday.
Yusuf's innings at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium had two fours and two sixes - a knock which brought back memories of how the 31-year-old used to bat in his prime. For him though, it was always about translating the self-belief into runs on the field. (Related: Preview - Kolkata Knight Riders return to Eden, face Chennai Super Kings)
"I was never low on confidence. I have always had tremendous self-belief and knew I will be getting my runs soon," he said in an interview to iplt20.com. "The domestic season kept me in a positive frame of mind for the IPL and it was always a matter of time that I got going in the IPL." (Also read: Yusuf backs Kolkata Knight Riders to make it to the playoffs)
The time, indeed, seemed right for Yusuf to fire as he was promoted to No. 4 after Hyderabad set a target of 143 on Sunday evening. Although a solid platform was built by Robin Uthappa (40) and Manish Pandey (35), it was Yusuf who put the explosive finishing touches to the chase.
"It is heartening to put up a match-winning performance for my side. I was certain that if I get to bat at the top of the innings and face more deliveries, I will help my team win," Yusuf was quoted as saying.
With 118 runs from 10 innings in IPL 2014 so far, Pathan has been far from being Kolkata's premier batsman. And with just an over bowled without success in the entire tournament, claims of being an all-rounder were also under the scanner. All of that though may now go for a toss as Kolkata look to consolidate a place in the playoffs.
For Yusuf though, IPL and cricket is all about the love that he gets from his fans. "I like the fact that the people and team management have expectations from me of winning matches. It is their love and support that keeps me going at times when I am low on confidence," he said.