Bangalore: Yusuf Pathan once instilled fear among the bowlers - especially in the Indian Premier League - with his free-stroking, match-winning knocks. Sixes sailed into the stands with regularity and minimum of fuss. But for the last couple of seasons, he hasn't been able to live up to his reputation and contributed little of note en route KKR's road to their maiden title last year.
But the Indian allrounder, who is striving to find the middle of his bat, has got the backing of his skipper Gautam Gambhir who feels a special knock from Yusuf is just round the corner.
"Pathan is a match-winner and is going to do something special in this tournament. I have a lot of belief in him and the entire team backs him and he backs himself as well," Gambhir said during a press conference ahead of the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday.
File photo of KKR allrounder Yusuf Pathan batting during IPL 5. (AP Photo)
KKR have so far won and lost a match each against Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals respectively, and Pathan's contributions have been 18 not out and a second-ball zero against Rajasthan, who beat the defending champions by 19 runs.
What has been interesting, though, is that Gambhir hasn't used Yusuf's offspinners in the two matches KKR have played this season. That suggest the skipper is willing to allow Yusuf concentrate on batting alone to find his lost touch.
Talking about the match against RCB, Gambhir suggested the Chris Gayle vs Sunil Narine battle will be the one to watch out for. "They will have a few tricks up their sleeves against each other," he said.
Gambhir also said that competitive nature of the tourney ensures that any team can win the tournament. "All teams are balanced and hence you have to just keep playing good cricket throughout the two months," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)