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The name is Irfan Khan, not Irfan Pathan

Faisal Shariff in Lahore | April 05, 2004 19:51 IST

"Aur kitne chahiye [How much more is needed]?" asked Irfan Pathan's mother, her face veiled, fingers fidgeting with every passing second as her son batted gallantly on day one of the second Test against Pakistan.

"Bus ek aur chahiye [Only one more]," replied his father, a strapping man in his fifties, with a golden beard, matching Jinnah cap and sky blue shirt, buttoned up to the collar.

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Irfan, on 49, was closing in on his first Test half-century when he offered the simplest of catches to leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.

His mother's hands froze as they shaped to applaud her son's feat; his father shuffled in his seat, his smile dissolving into a grimace.

Collecting themselves again, the proud parents clapped, and clapped loud, as Irfan made his way back to the pavilion after stitching a century stand for the eighth wicket. His partnership with Yuvraj Singh pulled India out of the doldrums and also made his parents' trip worthwhile.

Seated in the front row of the chairman's box, Mehmood Khan and Shamim Bano were cheered by Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Rameez Raja, VVS Laxman's parents and wife, and the wives of Rahul Dravid, Murali Kartik and Ajit Agarkar.

Irfan's parents have had a whirlwind three days in Lahore. From the masjid of Mandavi Gate area in Baroda to an airplane and a five-star hotel, it's been an unforgettable experience. It is the first time they are staying in a five-star hotel, flew in an aircraft and traveled abroad.

"Aisa lag raha hai khwaab dekh raha hu [It seems like I am dreaming]," his father said, soon after arriving at the Gaddafi stadium.

"Kabhi nahi socha tha ki masjid ki galli mein khelte khelte ye kabhi international cricket khelega [I never imagined that playing in the by-lanes near the mosque would lead to Irfan playing international cricket]," he said.

"Mere abba, mere dada bhi muezzin they. Irfan bhi masjid mein jhadoo deta tha, safai karta tha. Un nekiyo ke liye Allah ne ussey nawaza hai [My father and grandfather were also muezzins (those who give the call for prayer). Irfan used to sweep the mosque and clean it. Allah has rewarded him for those good deeds]."

His mother, wearing a black burqa, also cheered her son on.

"Bahut accha lag raha hai. Bus aasu nikal rahe hai mere. Mere bacche ko uski mehnat ka fal mila hai [I am feeling so happy that I am unable to hold back tears. My son has been rewarded for his hard work," she said.

Reminded that Irfan has eyes like hers, she replied: "Mera baccha hai meri jaisi ankhen nahi hongi to kiski hongi [If my son doesn't have eyes like mine then who will?"

She also clarified that her son's name is Irfan Khan and not Irfan Pathan.

"Tum logo ne uska naam badal diya hai [You people (the media) have changed his name]," she says.

Her husband complains that life has changed radically ever since Irfan played for India.

"Bahut taqleef hoti hai ki aadha ghanta bhi nahi milta uske saath baat karne ka. Wanda nahi hai, khushi hoti hai ki wohn tarakki kar raha hai [I feel bad that I don't even get half an hour to talk to Irfan. But it's okay; am happy he is doing well]," he says.

There is a connecting door between Irfan's room and his parents' in the team hotel. This evening and for the rest of the Test one can be sure Mahmood Khan and Shamim Bano will spend most of their time in their son's room.

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