'I told MS Dhoni I will sledge Shoaib Akhtar, you just laugh at him': Irfan Pathan
The 2006 Faisalabad Test between India and Pakistan is best remembered by MS Dhoni’s first-ever Test century. On a pitch that can be best described as a bowler’s graveyard, Dhoni essayed a brilliant knock to rescue India from a precarious position. The high-scoring match saw Pakistan score 588 runs in their first innings but this was matched by India, who scored 603 runs, thanks largely due to a 210-run sixth-wicket stand between wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni (148) and Pathan (90).
In a recent chat on social media, Pathan recalled an interesting incident when his verbal volleys with Pakistan’s speedster Shoaib Akhtar helped Dhoni focus on his game.
“When I was coming out to bat, Akhtar was bowling at a rapid pace of 150-160 kph. I went down and joined Dhoni and asked how’s the pitch is behaving, he responded by saying, ‘nothing much, you just bat’,” Irfan told to Sports Tak on Instagram Live.
“I faced Akhtar’s first ball and it was a bouncer and couldn’t even see the ball. Somehow we tried to negate his spell. We tried building our partnership and after sometime, Akhtar again came for a new spell,” he added.
Explaining the strategy to take on Akhtar, Pathan explained, “Akhtar was sledging. I told Dhoni ‘I will sledge Akhtar and you just laugh at him’ and Dhoni agreed to it. Akhtar continued sledging us and the ball started to reverse,” he said.
“That was the time, I sledged Akhtar saying ‘will you be able to bowl with the same intensity in the next spell?’. Akhtar responded angrily by saying ‘you talk too much’. He somehow completed that spell and that was how we drew that Test,” he added.
Pathan announced his retirement from all forms of the game, earlier this year in January. In a glittering career, the southpaw featured in 29 Tests, 120 One-day Internationals (ODIs), and 24 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) for India, picking a total of 301 wickets.