Hyderabad: Young Indian ODI medium-pacer Irfan Pathan claims he has achieved a lot at 23. In an exclusive tête-à-tête with cricketnirvana.com, the comeback man lashed out at his critics.
Irfan Pathan Unplugged
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What memories of famous World Twenty20 victory come to your mind?
Still it is like a dream. We gave more than 100 per cent. Yuvi, Dhoni and I everyone else played his role to perfection. My brother and I were representing the country together for the first time. When we will look back at our careers then we will say that it was the greatest achievement.
You were making a comeback during T20 WC. Was there extra pressure on you?
I was under pressure to perform. If I had not done well in T20 then I would have gone for a long period. I must say that I handled the pressure well.
You and Yousuf were playing together. So it was double joy for the family.
Absolutely. My brother and I were playing in the final. He scored few runs but the start which Yousuf gave changed the attitude of the team. It was a great feeling for my family and my sister.
How was playing under new captain MS Dhoni?
We all were enjoying cricket. We were called under dogs before the tournament. Dhoni told us to forget everything and enjoy ourselves. Even in the finals we were enjoying our game. Sometime, we forget that it is just a game. Obviously it’s our life but one must not forget the enjoyment part to ease the pressure.
What was the mood in the team when you guys went for the bowl out against Pak?
We didn’t know what’s happening. Our team scored 141 runs. We knew our team had to bowl well. The game was under our control till Misbah’s innings. We were probably the only team which had practised bowl-out in the nets. Venky did a good job as if he knew that we will have to play bowl out. We had great fun.
Robin Uthappa became hero after that bowl-out
Yes. Five of us were suppose to bowl in the bowl-out. Viru, Bhajji and Robin hit the bull’s eye.
Tell us about the loss against New Zealand in the T20 league match
Even in that game we played well against the Kiwis. One off game was to happen. But we gave our 100 per cent.
Your thoughts on Yuvraj Singh’s swashbuckling performances throughout T20 WC
He played 2-3 amazing innings. Against Australia, Yuvi was marvelous and no one can forget 6 sixes versus England. When Yuvi is on a roll no one can match him. You see everyone was playing his part very well. Dhoni and Yuvi were performing. I raised my hand in the final. Gambhir was consistent throughout the tournament.
You made your debut against Australia. And you have performed reasonably well against them. What brings out the best in you?
I think Australia and Pakistan are the two teams which take the best out of me. I think if one is competing against them, one has to be positive. One has to be away from the fear of failure. I try to be extra positive whenever I play against them.
You won MoM in the Perth Test. Was it doubly satisfying?
Yes it was. From Twenty20 World Cup to Indian Premier League (IPL), I have been performing consistently. One off series is justified when you play so much of cricket.
Do you believe that MoM award in the T20 final was the moment of your career?
It was actually icing on the cake. Winning the confidence of my captain was enough for me. The team was helping me. I am that kind of guy who works with the team. MoM was just to show the world that I have achieved something personally.
Can we get Misbah out cheaply now?
(Laughs) That’s what we did when Pakistan was touring India. On few occasions he was hitting the ball clean.
What did you think when Misbah scooped the ball in the last over of T20 WC final?
Oops Sree….(laughs). I was at mid-wicket. When I saw I knew it was not going to the boundary as it was not a powerful hit. Then I realised who was under it. I was just praying that Sree doesn’t drop it. In two seconds, we thought so many things. When Sree took the catch we couldn’t believe that we have won the World Cup.
I still remember running around the park, getting together with the team, going to dressing room n shouting like crazy. I was behaving like a child. Then finally the Manger came to me and told that I have been named Man of the Match.
I was like numbed for two seconds. I realised what I have been through for four months before the World Cup. I called up my family and shared my feeling with them.
Do you believe you have answered your critics?
I believe as long as you play cricket you will be criticised. The critics will only stop when the cricketer finishes his career. One can only perform well and make them eat their words. A lot of people talk about my swing and pace and I want to tell them that I was never a quick bowler.
One must understand that even a spinner bowls slow. It’s the variation which helps bowlers take wickets. I have always been a bowler who bowls at around 130-135 km/hr. I bowl first change these days and the world’s greatest would agree that white ball stops swinging after the first 10-12 overs.
At the end of the day, here is a guy called Irfan Pathan who has taken nearly 250 international wickets at the age of 23. Once I finish my career I won’t be answerable. Initially some said that I will go on to take 300 wickets but after few failures they said I will never make it to the big league. Slowly, I am reaching 150 wickets in ODIs and I have already 100 Test scalps in my kitty. I have scored over 1000 runs in both forms of the game. I have achieved pretty much.
Does criticism hurt at times?
Sometime people say something which is not reasonable. One cannot say anything. I feel why is he saying this, he has played at the highest level, why is he saying this. But one has to go and play.
If given an option of taking rest from one form of the game then what will be your choice?
Rest. No rest for cricketers. I enjoy playing. As long as I am playing and bowling I am happy.
Do you change your mindset in accordance with the format?
Yes. I do change my mindset.
Do bowlers tend to get negative in ODIs?
In a way. Not like big time. One has to understand that there are field restrictions, bowlers get only 10 overs and the wickets are getting flatter day by day. At the end it all depends upon the recent performances.
Probably after Ravi Shastri it is only you who has been taken to heights and questioned. Do you take advice from Shastri?
No, when you play for 5 years you get that experience. It all comes with time you spend on the field. I am a mature cricketer. I am 23 and soon I will be 24. I have seen more highs than people think I have seen lows. If a cricketer plays 200 games, he will have only 100 good games or may just 60-70 games where he performs well.
You have had an eventful career with MoM at T20 WC final and hat-trick in first over against Pak.
God has been kind to me. When I look back- MoM at T20 finals, hat-trick against Pak and MoM at Perth- all these moment have been career defining.
Next month India will take on mighty Australia and the players are gearing up by playing the Irani trophy. Are you disappointed that you were left out?
I am happy that I am playing cricket with India ‘A’. As long one is in the scheme of things one should be happy. A lot of people say that I have the potential to become an all-rounder. But my first love is bowling.
I bowled well in the last match against Sri Lanka but one must not forget that other bowlers are also performing well. Zaheer and Ishant are bowling well and their selection before me is justified.
Sometime one just needs to hold back and relax. When I was playing U-19 I was happy bowling in the nets. But after playing so much of cricket, one gets greedy for more games. And in the way loses the ‘enjoyment’ part from it. I try to look at the big picture. As long as one is doing the right things and is working hard. One must feel happy and the results will come around automatically.
How many times have you been asked about being an all-rounder?
I think more than 1000 times. But it has to show in my performance. The critics can say whatever they like. They get paid for it and it is their job. I have achieved a lot at 23. As I always say that it has to show in my results.
I will say that I am Irfan Pathan the all-rounder. I am the best (raises his hand). Kapil Dev-the great all-rounder became Kapil the all-rounder when he finished his career.
Obviously he was a wonderful cricketer and a wonderful batsman but then people have to talk about a player when he finishes his career.I haven’t said that I am an all-rounder. I have batted at No. 3 position quite a few times and have been successful but I have never claimed to be an all-rounder. To be a really good all-rounder it will require time.
You seem to have attained the status of a ‘movie star’ as your batting position and pace were the two things which were covered by all and sundry.
(Laughs) People still talk about these issues. It all about how one takes things in life. I used to feel bad when I was new. But now I know it is their job.