As Irfan Pathan, the poster boy of Indian cricket not so long ago, ran in relentlessly for close to an hour under clear skies at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday, he had more than one reason to smile.After spending a better part of the last 12 months on the sidelines, courtesy injuries, the more experienced of the famous siblings is desperate to get some quality match practice.
"Since the IPL, I have hardly been able to play a match, which is disappointing," Pathan told HT on the eve of turning out for India Blue against India Red in the Challenger Series for the NKP Salve Trophy opener.
"I was desperate to play matches, so I turned up for Baroda in the JP Atray tournament. But there also, one of our three games got washed out. So, finally, I am glad the dark clouds are a thing of the past and am looking forward to doing well in the Challengers."
The Baroda player would be hoping his statement holds true in real life as well. After all, injuries have prevented him from staking a claim for a spot in the national team.
That's why, perhaps, starting a fresh domestic season on a good note is of paramount importance to someone like Irfan. But the 26-year-old doesn't really think that way.
"I am not thinking about starting the season on a good note. When you are away from competitive cricket for a year, anyone will be happy playing a few matches," he says.
"My aim is to play for the country again and that's why I am here to play the Challengers. I would rather play a match than practice in the nets. If I am bowling well, it will automatically result in a good start to the season. I am just trying to enjoy myself." Sensing that his last two words could be interpreted in a different way, the southpaw quickly adds, "Enjoying my cricket, nothing else."
As he proceeds for another practice session, he says, "I have learnt that cricket is everything for me, but at the same time, there's much more to life than cricket. I have understood it now and hopefully, it will help me deliver better on the field."