Irfan worked in a pipe factory, earning just 300 rupees ($3) a week, before being spotted by former first-class cricketer Nadeem Iqbal in a club match, after which he made his debut for the Pakistan national cricket team at 28 years of age. Irfan was brought in to replace Pakistan's two prominent and core bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, who were accused of spot fixing. This was a perfect opportunity for Irfan to shine for Pakistan as they looked to move forward without their two great bowlers. However, Irfan's ODI debut against England in 2010 saw a reduction by 9 overs in the match due to bad weather conditions. He finished the match with bowling figures of 0–37 off 5. 3 overs, before going off the pitch with cramps. During this early stretch in his career, many were displeased by Irfan's performance. This was mainly due to his speed in the debut series against England; it underwhelmed many as it only showed 130–135 km/h on the velocity radar. To make matters worse, England had won the match by 24 runs. Irfan was dropped after the series and was not brought back until the India series on 25 December 2012.