Yusuf Pathan was born in Baroda, Gujarat, to a Pathan family. He is the older brother of Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan. Yusuf married Mumbai based physiotherapist Afreen on . His wife gave birth to a boy on 17 April 2014.
Following his impressive performances in the 2007 Deodhar Trophy and the Inter-state domestic Twenty20 competition held in April 2007, Pathan was made a part of the Indian squad for the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship, held in South Africa in September 2007. He made his Twenty20 international debut in the final against Pakistan. He opened the batting for India in the match, and scored 15 runs in the process.
Following his good showing in the IPL, he was selected for the Indian one-day team. After IPL, though he played all the games in the Kitply Cup and Asia Cup, he got to bat only four times and could not perform well with both bat and ball. He was later dropped from the series against Sri Lanka. He performed well in domestic circuit and impressed the selectors and was selected for the England ODI series in November. He scored a fifty off just 29 balls in the second ODI against England in Indore, on his 26th birthday.
Yusuf had made his One-Day International debut for India against Pakistan at Dhaka on 10 June 2008. He became a regular feature of the national One-Day International team, but is yet to make his test debut.
Even though Pathan could not repeat his first IPL performance in the second season, he was selected in the Indian team to play the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 championships in England. In the second of India's Super 8 matches, he made an unbeaten 33 from 17 balls against England. Despite his knock, the team lost the game and crashed out of the tournament without making it to the semi-finals.He consider himself lucky for his rare international debut which came in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2007.
In late-2009, Pathan was dropped from the limited overs team after a series of unproductive performances.
In the final of the 2010 Duleep Trophy cricket tournament, Pathan scored a hundred in the first innings and a double hundred in the second and led his team West Zone to a three wicket win over South Zone. Pathan made 108 in the first innings and an unbeaten 210 from 190 balls in the second innings to help his team chase down a mammoth target of 536. This became a world record for the highest successful run chase in first-class cricket history.
On 7 December 2010, Pathan's power hitting sealed a memorable 5-wicket win for India. Pathan clobbered the New Zealand attack with his aggressive innings, smashing an unbeaten 123 from 96 balls and shared an unbroken 133-run partnership with Saurabh Tiwary to guide India to a huge target of 316 with seven balls to spare and give the hosts a 4–0 lead in the series. He was named man of the match for this effort. The all-rounder clubbed seven fours and seven sixes on the way to his maiden one-day century to help the hosts overhaul New Zealand's challenging 315–7 with seven balls to spare at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
At the awards distribution ceremony he stated that "this knock will boost my career". Indian captain Gautam Gambhir said "I have always said Pathan can finish games on his own, and that's what he did today, I had never seen something like this before. But I knew till the time Pathan was there, we would win the game."
New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori said "It was a great game of cricket, we were in the game, but Pathan was pretty amazing and took the game away from us."
In the MTN ODI series against South Africa, before the 2011 World Cup, he gave a stand-out performance in a match in Pretoria where he scored a brilliant 105 in 70 deliveries (comprising 8 fours and 8 sixes). Even though India lost the match, his performance was complimented heavily. During this knock, he reached his century off 68 balls which is the sixth fastest by an Indian and the second fastest by an Indian outside the subcontinent. Thanks to his stream of good performances, he made it to the Indian team for 2011 World Cup. and also scored 100 for just 37 balls vs Mumbai Indians in IPL 2010 Though Yusuf did not have a great World Cup, he ended up having the winner's medal and the honor of holding the World Cup aloft.
He was named in the Indian team for 2012 Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh. He featured in the triangular series in Nairobi-Kenya and played for Baroda's team against Gujarat and Kenya international where he was honoured by a local fan who said "Yusuf the number one player in cricket after the great Sachin Tendulkar."
After a good domestic season in 2007/08, he was signed by the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League for USD 475,000 (INR 1.9 crore). In the 2008 IPL season, he scored 435 runs and took 8 wickets. He recorded the season's fastest half century (from 21 balls) against the Deccan Chargers, and was also the Man of the Match in the final against the Chennai Super Kings.
Yusuf Pathan was named as the vice-captain of Rajasthan Royals during IPL 3. On 13 March 2010, Pathan scored a century off 37 balls, in an Indian Premier League match against Mumbai Indians. The innings also included 11 consecutive hits to the boundary (6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4).
After that knock where he scored the fastest IPL century, his Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne described his innings as one of the best innings he has even seen in his career and also compared Yusuf Pathan with his country-mate Andrew Symonds as two of the cleanest hitters of the ball.
In the 2011 IPL auction, he was bought for $2.1 million by Kolkata Knight Riders and was retained by the Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 3.25 crores via the ‘Right to Match’ option in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction 2014.
On 24 May 2014, Yusuf hit the fastest 50 in IPL history doing it in a mere 15 balls. As a result, Kolkata Knight Riders ended up 2nd in the league table and Won the title for the season.
On 15 May 2013 Yusuf Pathan became the first batsman to be given out for obstructing the field in Twenty20 cricket while playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2013 against Pune Warriors India.
He held the record of fastest 50 (in 18 balls) up to October 2015 in the Ranji Trophy. His record was broken by Bandeep Singh (in 15 balls).
The Cricket Academy of Pathans was jointly launched by Yusuf and Irfan Pathan.The academy has tied up with former India coach Greg Chappell and Cameron Tradell as chief mentors. Chappell would coach the coaches of the Academy.* indicates the batsman being not out