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Yusuf steps out of Irfan’s shadow

Talking never came easy to Yusuf Pathan. Within a day, he'll be playing in the IPL final, an occasion for which many yearned, reports Varun Gupta.
Hindustan Times | By Varun Gupta, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 01, 2008 12:39 AM IST

Talking never came easy to Yusuf Pathan. Within a day, he'll be playing in the IPL final, an occasion for which many yearned. Within a week, he'll be part of the ODI team for its tour of Bangladesh, something for which he yearned for "ages".

Yet Yusuf's visage is bereft of any emotion, his words deprived of any trace of conceit as he plops into a chair and braces himself for something "he is not really good at" -- chatting.

"I didn't even know when the selection was. I was immersed in my own game, and was enjoying my cricket so much that I didn't even know I had been selected," he revealed in his soft, compelling voice when asked whether he expected the call-up.

Having lived under his younger brother's shadow for ages - some even felt that the lingering shadow will kill his growth ---Yusuf has finally broken free, carving a niche with his domineering displays in the IPL as well as domestic cricket. Yet he has no qualms in admitting that his younger brother played a huge role in his development.

"Just seeing Irfan's confidence has helped me immensely. I am extremely lucky to have a brother who has been playing for India for the last five years. His experiences have made me wise, and a better cricketer. I owe him that."

The hardest thing about waiting in the wings is that the wait always gives you too much time to think 'what if'. But Yusuf said he never harboured any such feeling. "I was never frustrated by the lack of opportunities as I always had the belief in me and my performances. I know it's easier said than done but I always believed in doing my end of the work and leaving the rest to the Almighty," he claimed.

There have been times in the tournament when Yusuf, not one to respect reputations, has appeared nerveless, backing himself even in precarious positions. "I don't know what fear is, actually. It comes naturally to me. I believe that body language is a very important aspect of cricket. If you appear lax and hesitant, the opposition will always sense it. I don't believe in giving much away," he asserted.

He also said that the frenetic pace and demands of Twenty20 have only made him better and he is wise enough not to set any targets, "as they always impede and add to the pressure".

Yusuf reserved the final word for Sunday's big final. "It is a big moment for me. Not many rated us and now I would love to play against Irfan; it'll be a great moment for the family as my parents are also here. So far, I have done well and won matches single-handedly. Hope to do so again in the final."

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