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Irfan nervous about first-class comeback

With one eye on the tour of Australia, Irfan Pathan is nervous to return to first-class cricket after close to two years

Irfan Pathan will return to first-class cricket for the first time in two years when Baroda face Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy opener at Chepauk on Thursday. With India's pace-attack for the winter tour of Australia largely undecided, the left-arm seamer must fancy his chances if he regains his rhythm this domestic season.
The 27-year old spoke to MiD DAY during a promotional event last Saturday.


Good ole days: Irfan Pathan is embraced by his teammates on Test
debut at Adelaide in December 2003. Pic/getty images


Excerpts:

How are you feeling at the moment about your game?
Touch wood, the injuries are staying away at the moment. I played the whole IPL season and the recently concluded Challenger Trophy. In the last five days, I have played four T20 games (Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament). I am feeling good about my bowling. I always believe that bowlers will get better the more they bowl. Rhythm comes only when you bowl more. I am looking forward to the Ranji Trophy.

In the last two years, you have played a lot of T20, but no first-class cricket. How tough is the transition to four-day cricket?
To be honest, it might take me one or two matches to get back to the longer format. Yesterday, I did simulation practice between nine in the morning and five in the evening. My intention is to keep practicing and spend lesser time in the gym. There's been only one session so far. I will have another training session tomorrow. I'll be playing first-class cricket after close to two years. I'm certainly a little nervous. It takes time to make that transition from T20 and one-day to four-day cricket. But, the main thing is to feel the rhythm. As that improves, I'll be able to bowl longer spells.

How did you accept the criticism of you losing your seam position and pace?
When your level (standard of bowling) goes down, critics will talk, and it's totally acceptable. It can be unfair sometimes, and that hurts. But, these days it doesn't matter. I accept that my seam position had gone wrong. I am trying to get it right. But, cricket is a funny game -- when you start taking wickets -- everything becomes normal again.

With Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth dropped from the Test squad, it is still not certain as to who will form the Test attack in Australia. Even Zaheer Khan's availability is not certain. The selectors must be thinking about you considering your past record in Australia...
Maybe, and that's the thing with modern day cricket -- there is so much competition. The more the competition, the more opportunity you get as a bowler. Every two months, the team's combination is changing. Thus, nobody should lose hope when they are out. I am very pleased for Umesh (Yadav) and Varun (Aaron) for getting into the Test side. Both are Delhi Daredevils boys and I am really proud of them. Both are immensely talented.

You enjoyed a lot of success when you had those curls on. Is it time to bring them back?
(Laughs). Maybe, at some stage. But those curls were there when I was a lot younger. I have changed a lot as a cricketer and a person since then.

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