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In the third and the last Test at Karachi in 2006, Irfan became only the second Indian after Harbhajan Singh to take a Test hat-trick. Getty Images

When it comes to cricket, nothing can match the hysteria an India-Pakistan contest creates. Quite rightfully, when India toured their arch-rivals Pakistan in 2004 after a gap of 15 years, the anticipation was at extreme levels and the buzz that was created was simply unparalleled. The focal point of discussion in both the countries was the series. From the commoners to the VIPs, the entire Pakistan was at their hospitable best.

However, there was one young boy, still 19, who was hogging the limelight. The young Irfan Pathan, who was travelling to Pakistan on only his second tour with the Indian team, had by then become India s blue-eyed boy after his fantastic debut on the Australian tour that preceded the Pakistan series. With his lethal swing and decent pace, Pathan was already making waves in international cricket.

So when India landed in the neighbouring country, Pakistan s then outspoken coach Javed Miandad reportedly ridiculed Pathan’s potential saying “Pathan jaise bowler Pakistan ki gali-gali me milenge (such bowlers like Pathan are found in every by-lane of Pakistan). But little did Miandad know that this tactical verbal-volley will backfire for his team big-time. Pathan played a key role in India winning the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series, where he featured in last three games and picked-up eight wickets.

In the Test series that followed, Pathan took 12 wickets in India s win and Miandad s famous statement was forced to bite the dust. But this was not enough, as Pathan inflicted more damage on the arch-rivals when India toured next in 2006. In the third and the last Test at Karachi, he became only the second Indian after Harbhajan Singh to take a Test hat-trick. Furthermore, his effort also saw him become the first player in the history of Test cricket to bag a hat-trick in the first over.

Bowling first on a green-top, Pathan beautifully set-up his first victim Salman Butt, who fell on the fourth delivery of the over after edging one to the slip. Next up was Younis Khan, who was trapped in front of the stumps to a full-length delivery that swung back in. Mohammad Yousuf, who had no answer to the delivery that once again came back in sharply, completed the hat-trick as he lost his stumps to Pathan s swing.

Once the poster-boy of Indian cricket, Pathan was the answer to India s quest to find Kapil Dev s successor. But the Greg Chappell era, and to some extent the injuries and lack of form, meant his career could never really realise its true potential. However, Pathan still remains in contention for a comeback, as he has been working hard on his game and doing great things for his home-team Baroda in domestic cricket.