After a forgettable debut where he was carted around for 44 runs off his first four overs, and of two home Tests against New Zealand, he emerged as one of India's leading fast bowlers in their historic tour of Pakistan in 2003-04. He was particularly lethal in a couple of sessions in the third Test in Rawalpindi, where he consistently swung the ball away, and snapped up a then career-best 4 for 63. A stress fracture ruled him out of cricket in 2005, and threatened to end his career. He had to undergo a back surgery before which he was not sure he would be able to bowl again. With a remodelled action he started the long road back through the first season of the IPL in 2008. His 11 wickets for Chennai Super Kings included a hat-trick. A successful Ranji season followed, and his 36 wickets at 17.50 took Tamil Nadu through to the semi-final. Eventually the national recall came, when Munaf Patel sustained a groin injury during the five-ODI series in Sri Lanka in January 2009.