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World record holder Irfan says he wanted to bowl 4 maidens
CPL 2018

World record holder Irfan says he wanted to bowl 4 maidens

Pakistan and Barbados Tridents fast bowler Mohammad Irfan has said that he didn’t know about the world record figures he registered last week in the Caribbean Premier League and only wanted to bowl four maiden overs on the trot. Irfan bowled 23 consecutive dot balls and conceded a run only off the last ball of his spell against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Irfan finished the spell with the figures 4-3-1-2, the most economical four-over spell in Twenty20 history. However, during the game, he was not aware of his world record effort. He started with a big wicket of Chris Gayle on the very first ball of the innings and later removed Evin Lewis in his second over.

“The world records make you feel happy, so it was a great moment of happiness for me. My focus has always been on the bowling,” Irfan told Cricingif in an interview from Barbados.

“When I finished my overs there was nothing in my mind. I didn’t even know about the world record. I got to know about it when I came out of the field."

“I tried to bowl four maiden overs in a row. I had also taken their two wickets. I was attacking and trying to contain runs. There were many plays and misses, but somehow it didn’t find an edge. Otherwise, I could have taken a few more wickets. I just wanted to bowl four out of four maidens.”

The previous record was jointly held by Sri Lankan seamer Chanaka Welegedara and South African pacer Chris Morris. Both conceded two runs in their four-over spells in the domestic T20s in Sri Lanka in 2015 and South Africa in 2014 respectively.

The Patriots batsmen appeared clueless against Irfan and found him tough to negotiate. Of his 24 deliveries in the match, there were 17 plays and misses. The only batsman who managed to score a run off him was Brandon King. Irfan believes even that single could have been avoided if the fielder was little quicker.

“I wanted to take more wickets because I was bowling at a good pace due to which batsmen were getting beaten. I was bowling short in a bid to draw a catch at boundary or mid-on.”

“The last delivery was a slow bouncer. It should not have been a single as the fielder came little lazy. Still, it was a great feeling to get two top-order wickets for just one run. I enjoy bowling the spell.

Although the Kensington Oval has traditionally been in favour of fast bowlers and been a tough venue for batting – the reason no Asian team has won a Test at this venue, Irfan believes that it was his height (7 feet and 1 inch) that gave him an extra advantage.

“I do not drive advantage from the pitch as much I do it from my height. I get extra bounce even when I bowl on good lengths. But overall it was a good wicket for fast bowling,” said the world’s tallest international cricketer.

Irfan is playing for Barbados in the company of legendary batsmen such as Hashim Alma, Steve Smith and Martin Guptill. Their wealth of experience has been helpful for Irfan. He seeks help from them in understanding what sort of deliveries could trouble batsmen on a specific wicket.

 Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

“Barbados players are really helpful, and I am learning from them. After this world record, Steve Smith, Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill and Jason Holder appreciated me.”

“I discuss with them which deliveries could be difficult for batsmen on a particular pitch especially when they come after batting. I talked to Smith about the deliveries that were difficult to face when we were batting first. I get confidence by talking to batsmen.”

Irfan originally was not part of the Barbados Tridents. He was called in as a replacement for his countryman Junaid Khan. He has taken six wickets in six games so far in the CPL, but it is his ability to contain runs that has been a standout feature. 78 out of his 144 balls in the tournament have drawn dots. No other pacer in CPL 2018 has a better dot balls percentage than his (54.16%) and no other Barbados player has bowled a maiden over in this CPL.

Even though Irfan has been playing in the T20 leagues, he is out of the national team from the last two years. His last appearance was in a one-day international against England at Leeds in 2016 when he bowled only five overs and could not bowl more due to fitness issues.

There is never a doubt on his skills as a bowler; it is his fitness that has kept him out of the national team for two years. But with successful stints in the Pakistan Super League for Multan Tigers (10 wickets with an Economy of 6.33) and the CPL for Barbados, he is hopeful of making a comeback in the national team.

“I am out of the team from last two years. I am working hard on my fitness and bowling. I have performed in the domestic cricket too.”

“I am trying to make a strong comeback in the national team. I have worked on my fitness issues. Alhamdulillah, my fitness is much better now, and I will improve it further.”