Irfan Pathan had no intentions of going to life-changing Pakistan tour in 2003

The 35-year-old played 29 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is for India

Irfan Pathan had no intentions of going to life-changing Pakistan tour in 2003 PHOTO: Reuters

Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has revealed that he was, initially, reluctant to tour Pakistan in 2003 with the U19 side, which later proved to be a life-changing event of his cricket career.

Pathan announced his retirement from all forms of the game, earlier this year in January, bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career which included a World Twenty20 triumph.

The 35-year-old left-arm seamer played 29 Tests, 120 One-day Internationals (ODIs) and 24 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) for India, picking a total of 301 wickets.

The left-armer picked up nine wickets in an U19 clash against Bangladesh in 2003 in Lahore. While recalling the tour, Pathan revealed that he was more interested in playing a Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai for Baroda rather than visiting Pakistan.

“I didn’t want to come on that Pakistan tour. We had a match against Mumbai in Ranji Trophy. I told Shetty sir that it’s a match against Mumbai, I’m in good form. So if I perform against them then my name will definitely start doing the rounds. But he said ‘no India are touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years. You’ve played U19 before so you have to go.’ I went there disappointed to be honest but who knew what was in store for me,” Pathan told Suresh Raina in an Instagram live session.

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Pathan’s exploits in Pakistan helped him seal a spot in India’s side for tour of Australia.

“I remember the Lahore match when you took 9 wickets with two hat tricks and everybody started talking about you. But you by God’s grace after you played that match in Pakistan you were selected for the Australia tour,” said Raina.

Pathan’s biggest contribution to Indian cricket came in the game’s shortest format as he was named player of the match in the World T20 final against Pakistan in 2007. He took three crucial wickets as India lifted the trophy in Johannesburg.

He is one of three Indian bowlers to have claimed a Test hat-trick and the first in the world to claim it in the first over of the match.