Irfan Pathan's best: Wicked swing at the WACA, and those three balls in Karachi

Irfan Pathan is mobbed by his team-mates after taking a hat-trick in the first over of the 2006 Karachi Test AFP

For a generation of Indian cricket fans, Irfan Pathan promised to end their quest for an allrounder in the mould of Kapil Dev. He burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager with lively pace and menacing left-arm swing, always threatening the right-hander's pads and the left-hander's outside edge. There was clear ability with the bat too, and it translated into runs across formats when Greg Chappell took over as India's coach and gave him opportunities up the order.

But with time, the pace dipped, the swing disappeared, and his threat was vastly reduced. Then came a slew of injuries that further hampered his progress. But he came back and briefly looked a world-beater again, playing a key role in India winning a world title, and then contributing handsomely with bat and ball to a famous Test win in Perth. But the magic moments were sporadic thereafter, and after a spell of regular white-ball selection in 2012, his international career came to an end when he was just 27.

Irfan's may not have fulfilled his lavish potential, but the imprint of his finest moments will always remain fresh in fans' eyes. ESPNcricinfo looks back at his career, and picks out five of his greatest performances.

The Chappell surprise at the Kotla

Virender Sehwag's illness left India an opener short, and after Rahul Dravid did the job in the first innings, they sprung a surprise in the second, after pocketing a 60-run lead, sending Irfan out alongside Gautam Gambhir. The elevation proved a masterstroke, as Irfan showed composure, an uncomplicated technique and a wide range of shots to score a match-sealing 93.

Sri Lanka were taken aback by the move, and by the time they figured out a way to bowl to him, India had swelled the lead well beyond their reach. His disdainful take down of Muttiah Muralitharan - he hit him for towering sixes over long-off and long-on, and was unafraid to hit him against the turn - was the stand-out feature of his innings, his no-holds-barred approach contrasting with the caution shown by the likes of Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.

Irfan scored 45 off 58 balls against Muralitharan during this innings. In the first innings, while scoring his landmark 35th Test ton to go past Sunil Gavaskar's record, Tendulkar scored 35 off 76 against the offspinner.

He scored at more than four-and-a-half against Muralitharan; Sachin Tendulkar, who in the first innings brought up his landmark 35th Test ton to go past Sunil Gavaskar's record, managed a rate of 2.76. Irfan missed his maiden Test century by seven runs, but he showed he could be a legitimate option up the order - at home, at least - if India wanted to play an extra bowler.

The Karachi hat-trick

When India toured Pakistan in 2004, Javed Miandad famously quipped that Pakistan had a bowler like Irfan Pathan in every gully (lane) and mohalla (hamlet).

Irfan's response to the words of the Pakistan coach were emphatic: 12 wickets in the three-match Test series at 28.50, as India won 2-1.

Two years later, though, Irfan was having a much harder time in Pakistan. Sure, the pitches were like roads, but he looked particularly unthreatening, with his pace down and his swing a faint memory, as the first two Tests brought him combined figures of 2 for 319, with an economy rate above four an over.

There were plenty of questions about Irfan's form and his effectiveness on flat tracks when the series moved to Karachi for the third Test, with the series still 0-0. India were taken aback by the greenness of the pitch at the National Stadium. Rahul Dravid elected to bowl, and within one over, Irfan had put India in what seemed an impregnable position.

Three balls went by, and then, mayhem. The ball was coming out of Irfan's hand with that familiar menacing curve to it. Salman Butt nicked the fourth ball of the over to first slip. Then Younis Khan, his front leg sliding across, following the initial angle from left-arm over, had no answer to the late inswing, and was trapped plumb in front. The last ball of the over was slightly shorter, and it nipped in off the seam and sneaked between bat and pad to rattle Mohammad Yousuf's stumps.

Irfan had become the second Indian after Harbhajan Singh to take a Test-match hat-trick. Pakistan were 0 for 3 in one over.

On top of the world in Jo'burg

India were defending 157 in the World T20 final. Pakistan had lost a clutch of wickets, but weren't out of it when Irfan began his second over. They needed 82 off 54 balls, but still had Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq at the crease, with Shahid Afridi to follow. After delivering two dot balls, Irfan had a wicket off the third when Malik's short-arm jab was pouched by Robin Uthappa at midwicket. Pakistan were five down.

In walked Afridi, and Irfan immediately tested him with a short ball, which was signalled wide. Irfan later revealed how the short-ball was part of a ploy to let Afridi know he wouldn't be getting anything in his arc. That was just a bluff, though. The follow-up delivery was fuller, right in Afridi's hitting arc, but it was a cutter, devoid of any pace. Predictably, Afridi swung, got more elevation than distance and Sreesanth held on to a tough catch at mid-off. Only two runs came off that over, and two danger men were gone.

Irfan's third over was just as tight, going for just four runs. When he came back for his final over, Pakistan simply had to go after him, with 59 required off 30 balls. Yasir Arafat managed to connect well with the fourth ball of the over, striking it back over the bowler's head for four. But two balls later, he missed a straight one while going for a leg-side hoick. Irfan finished with 3 for 16, with India well on top. There would be more twists and turns in the overs to follow, but India eventually held on to win by five runs, and Irfan bagged the Player of the match award.

Glory at the WACA

Australia had a shot at going where no team had gone before: 17 Test wins in a row. The 16th had been the ill-tempered New Years' Test of 2008, where they had ended India's resistance with minutes remaining on the fifth day.

Given all the events of Sydney, tensions were high when the teams came to Perth, and on a typically fast and bouncy WACA surface, Australia went in with four quicks, three of them - Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson - capable of breaching 150kph.

India bolstered their pace attack too, bringing Irfan in as their fifth bowler, with an expectation that he could chip in with the bat too. And he answered the call brilliantly, dismissing both openers cheaply in both innings, and making two vital contributions with the bat - 28 in the first innings, and 46 in the second, having come in as nightwatchman at No. 3, and kept one end going even as Australia chipped away at the other to reduce India to 125 for 5.

His doughty innings helped India set a target of 413, and by the end of the third day's play Australia had already lost Chris Rogers and Phil Jaques, both left-handers nicking off to Irfan's new-ball swing. The middle and lower order kept pushing, but the target was too far beyond Australia's reach, and India eventually wrapped up victory by 72 runs.

Player of the Match? Irfan Pathan. And India were so impressed by his exploits that they left out the out-of-form Wasim Jaffer and made him open the batting in the next Test in Adelaide.

Carnage in Colombo

India and Sri Lanka seemed to be playing each other every day in 2009, but even as one match blended into another, fans will remember this one-off T20I in Colombo for the combined brilliance of the Pathan brothers.

From 81 for 2, India lost Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja to slip to 115 for 7. The target of 172 seemed distant, the asking rate had touched 11.40. Enter Irfan, who clinically took down Sri Lanka's bowlers with his older brother Yusuf. They put together an unbroken 59-run stand off just 25 balls; India were home and dry with four balls to spare.

After Yusuf teed off against Malinga Bandara's legspin, Irfan joined in the fun. He carved Lasith Malinga over extra-cover for a one-bounce four, clubbed Dilhara Fernando over midwicket for six, and delivered the coup de grace off Malinga with another muscular hit over midwicket. Game, set and match for India.

Irfan finished 33 not out off just 16 balls. Earlier in the evening, he'd broken a threatening opening stand by removing Sanath Jayasuriya for a 17-ball 33. It was a day's pay well earned.