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Yusuf Pathan excited to play alongside Brendon McCullum

After below-par shows in the first three editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kolkata Knight Riders made a turnaround last year with Gautam Gambhir at the helm. And it was Yusuf Pathan (bought for a whopping $2.1 million at the 2010 auction) who helped Shah Rukh Khan-owned KKR to some clinical finishes. Memories of Yusuf's century (for Rajasthan Royals) off 37 balls against Mumbai Indians will not be forgotten by those involved in that 2010 game at the Brabourne Stadium.


KKR co-owner owner Shah Rukh Khan talks to Yusuf Pathan during the
Players' Auction in Bangalore on Saturday. Pic/AFP


This time, the Baroda basher will be joined by another head-turner -- New Zealand's Brendon McCullum -- in the KKR ranks. The Kolkata franchise won the Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman back for US$900,000 at the auction held in Bangalore on Saturday.


Brendon McCullum

Yusuf is excited to get a chance to play alongside McCullum. "He will be a great boost to the team. He can score runs quickly at the top of the order and can keep wickets - an asset to any team. His inclusion will surely make KKR more formidable," Yusuf told MiD DAY yesterday.

The senior Pathan, who had seen the Kiwi opener at his best during India's tour of New Zealand in 2009, rated McCullum as one of the most dangerous batsmen in all formats. "Not only in T20s, Brendon is one of the most dangerous batsmen and is good for any format. I welcome him to the squad," Pathan said.

The 29-year-old hard-hitter felt the New Zealander's inclusion would add variety to the team. "Since he was a KKR for three years, he won't take much time to adjust. We have Gauti (Gambhir) and Jacques Kallis. Brendon will also give us more options and variety," he felt.

Aiming for World Twenty20
However, the Baroda all-rounder is leaving no stone unturned in his effort to seal a berth in the India team for September's World Twenty20 championships to be held in Sri Lanka and is busy honing his skills to be successful yet again. "My main target is the T20 World Cup. If I can perform well in the IPL, it will hold me in good stead for the World T20. Playing for India is the ultimate," said Pathan.

The dream of playing for India along with half-brother Irfan again is at the back of Yusuf's mind. "Yes, it would be great to see both of us representing the nation again. I am happy that Irfan has staged a comeback after a long time. I will try my best to be there soon," Yusuf vowed.

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