Not many would disagree that Yusuf Pathan is the most valuable and feared player in the Indian Premier League. Pace or spin, full or short, the Baroda Bomber seems to have an unbelievable ability to hit everything and win matches on his own.
After playing a huge role in Rajasthan Royals’ triumph last year, Irfan Pathan’s elder brother has been instrumental in his team’s comeback bid after a bad start to IPL II. Batting well down the order, he is playing the big shots with the same effect and making them count. Excerpts from a chat with HT:
Do you realise how big a T20 force you have become in a matter of one year?
Instead of thinking about that, I’d like to examine how I’ve improved as a player in that time. Looking back, I find a lot of positives and see that I’ve added a few shots to my repertoire, including the ones on the off side. That’s why I’m playing more match-winning innings.
Do you believe that you can hit every ball?
That’s not correct. No batsman can hit every ball. I enjoy hitting the ball and keep finding ways of picking the balls to hit. It’s a mind game in that sense. In T20, it’s essential for yourself and the team that you hit more balls. It then becomes a game of devising shots and finding newer ways of hitting. A lot of hard work goes behind it and it’s not as easy as it looks.
You’re part of the India ODI and T20 sides. How has that changed your game?
In terms of confidence, being part of the Indian dressing room has made a huge difference. There are some big names there and you learn a lot from them... how they prepare mentally, how they approach a game. You also learn a lot by watching the way they practise… from their work ethic. I’m proud to be part of that dressing room.
How different is it to bat lower down the order?
This is something I’ve to do for the team at the moment. When we are chasing and if I get out at the halfway stage batting at No. 4, it becomes difficult for the rest to smash 80-90 runs in 40-odd balls. The situation demands that I bat at No. 7 or 8 and I’m happy as long as I get the job done.
Finally, what went through your mind in that super over against KKR…16 from an over isn’t that easy after all?
Well, it got over in four balls, didn’t it? Once I hit the first one for six, I knew I’d finish it. The knowledge that my team relies on me and expects me to get the job done gives me additional self-belief.