Nothing in life is permanent. And who would know this better than Irfan Pathan. Once the blue-eyed boy of Indian cricket, Pathan’s progress is no less remarkable than a stock market chart, depicting all the crests and troughs over an extended period of time.
Irfan Pathan. Pic/AFP.
Pathan, who made a stunning debut in the 2003-04 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in Australia, won the ICC Emerging Player of the Year award in only the second year of his career. In 2006, he became the only Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in the first over of a Test match (vs Pakistan at Karachi). He soon rose to the No 2 position in the ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders.
However, the flamboyant 29-year-old could not continue his productive run and was dropped from the Indian team at the end of 2006. Thereafter, he has been in and out of the side.
Pathan, who completed 10 years in international cricket, spoke to mid-day on his topsy-turvy career that has been lately marred by injuries. Excerpts:
On the rollercoaster ride:
The ride is still on and it is important that it continues. Hopefully, now it will be smoother. I like this rollercoaster ride… I love this challenge. If you look at the numbers that I have achieved, I have more than 100 wickets in ODIs and Tests. I am proud to have achieved this in just 120 ODIs and 29 Tests. If any youngster expects a smoother ride, I would suggest don’t play international cricket, because you are not going to get anywhere (with that attitude). I will play another five years of international cricket and I am going to achieve a lot of things. Yes, there will be challenges, but that’s the fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?
On whether he has lived up to early promise:
There have been times when my progress was hampered due to injuries. Making a comeback is always difficult. Now, I know how to go about it. With experience, I am in a better position to handle it. Hopefully, I will be back soon on the international stage. Yusuf (elder bother) and I will keep knocking on the Indian team’s door.
On the spate of recent injuries:
Those who keep playing, are bound to get injured. It is a natural phenomenon. Bowling is not an easy job as there are a lot of twists and turns that the body has to endure. It is important how quickly you comeback and return to form. Staying injury-free is impossible nowadays. Injuries, hopefully, will be a story of my past very soon.
It is important to be smart here. Sometimes I have overdone things. So, I have to ensure I do only what is required. I will also undergo a complete screening of my body every three months to check my vitamins, calcium levels and elasticity of muscles with my physio Ashish (Kaushik). I was looking to have a full-time physio, but they were all busy with some IPL teams or state teams. So, I am working with Ashish, who is with the National Cricket Academy.
On his comeback trail:
I am hoping to play as many domestic matches as I can. I had a good outing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The good thing is that we (Baroda) have qualified for the knockouts, so I will get more matches. I am fit and feeling confident after bowling in the powerplays and batting in the death overs. Whatever matches I play, I want to ensure that I fulfill the responsibility of an all-rounder.
My aim is to make a comeback into the Indian team much before the 2015 World Cup. I am preparing for it and that has meant sleeping on time, following strict diet plans and training in the right manner. I am preparing for the toughest of situations.