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Irfan Pathan eyes Challenger Trophy success for comeback

Challenger Trophy which starts in Nagpur today, provides hope for Pathan

Discarded India all-rounder Irfan Pathan will continue his pursuit to end a two-year hiatus from international cricket as the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy gets underway at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground in Nagpur today.


Comeback trail: Pathan in action during the 2009 ICC WT20 in
England. PIC/Getty Images


Irfan will turn out for the S Badrinath-led India Blue who will play their opening match against India Red today.
The new season brings new hope for the Baroda swing bowler. When asked if a good performance in the Challenger Trophy is a good opportunity to make a comeback considering India's lack of options in the pace bowling department, he didn't appear too pleased.

"I don't agree with what you are trying to suggest. I have been working hard and believe that I will make a comeback on my ability alone. I should be good enough to play for India regardless of who is injured or who is not. I want to attain the level where my bowling alone should earn my place back," he said at the Jamia Milia University in New Delhi.

Desperation was writ large on his face. Earning millions of dollars through the Indian Premier League (IPL) has not softened his desire to play for the country again. Recently, he played in the JP Atrey tournament in Chandigarh and practiced hard last week in a Delhi Daredevils camp held under the watchful eyes of India bowling coach Eric Simons and TA Sekar.

"Eric's (Simons) presence has helped me a lot. So has Sekar sir's, who has been guiding me whenever I have struggled since my formative years. Representing the country is a privilege and I miss that terribly. But, I am sanguine about getting my place back in the coming season," added the 26-year-old southpaw, who last played for India in 2009.

Irfan's India career
>> Tests: 29, Runs: 1105, Average: 31.57, 100/50: 1/6; 100 wickets, Average: 32.26, 5-wicket hauls: 7

>> ODIs: 107, Runs: 1368, Average: 22.80, 100/50: 0/5; 152 wickets, Average: 29.91, 5-wicket hauls: 1

>> T20Is: 16, Runs: 133,  HS: 33 not out; 16 wickets, Econ: 7.74

NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, 2011-12
>> October 10 -- India Blue vs India Red

>> October 11 -- India Green vs India Red 

>> October 12 -- India Blue vs India Green

>> October 13 -- Final

>> India Blue S Badrinath (capt); Trump card: Irfan

>> India Green Harbhajan Singh (capt); Trump card: Robin Uthappa

>> India Red Gautam Gambhir (capt); Trump card: Y Pathan

Live on television -- Neo Cricket, 14:30

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