Little bro is my inspiration: Yusuf
An elder brother is usually a role model for his younger siblings. But for the Pathan family here, younger brother Irfan is an inspiration for Yusuf.
"My brother (Irfan) is my inspiration. He is mentally very strong and his never-say-die attitude is what motivates me," Yusuf, a member of India's Twenty20 World Championship winning team said.
"We have grown up playing cricket together and I am proud of my brother's achievements. I try to work as hard as he does and hopefully my hard work will also bear fruit one day," he said on the sidelines of the Baroda Ranji team's practice session at the historical Motibaug Ground.
Irfan was considered by many to be India's best swing bowler when he made his Test debut in Australia in 2003-04. But his bowling declined in 2006, and he struggled to make it to the Test and ODI teams when the year ended. Irfan also earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first Indian player to be sent back from a tour (South Africa) to concentrate on domestic cricket.
Irfan was selected for the World Cup squad but could not make it to the 11 in a single game during India's disappointing campaign, after which he was dropped from both the Test and one-day sides.
He was recalled to the side for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa and made a big comeback, picking up 10 wickets. His crucial spell of 3/16 in the final against Pakistan earned him the Man of the Match award.
The Pathan brothers became the first siblings to represent India in Twenty20 matches. Irfan and Yusuf also became the eighth pair of siblings to represent India in international cricket - after a gap of almost 29 years.
"The way he fought his way into the team after being dropped is something one should learn from. His strength of character is his biggest power which I like the most," said Yusuf.
On Twenty20 cricket, Yusuf said, "Twenty20 cricket is exciting and I like the format of the game. I like hitting big sixes and that is the reason why I like the Twenty20 version. It is a great honour to be a part of the Twenty20 World Championship winning squad."
But at the same time, Yusuf asserted that he wouldn't like to be branded a Twenty20 player.
"I wouldn't like to be branded as only a Twenty20 cricketer. Every cricketer likes to be a part of the ODI and Test squads and I also hope to represent my country in the coming days," the cricketer said.
Yusuf first made his mark as a hard-hitting batsman and off-spinner for the Baroda Under-16 team in the Vijay Merchant Trophy in 1999-2000. He made his Ranji debut against Saurashtra in 2001-02, but it wasn't until the 2004-05 season that he established himself as a regular in the Baroda squad.
He has scored more than 250 runs and taken at least 15 wickets in each of the last three Ranji seasons. His ability to score runs quickly - he had the highest strike rate in the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy - and good performances in the Deodhar Trophy and Twenty20 domestic tournament in 2006-07 helped him get a place in the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Championship.
"I have performed well in the one-dayers in the domestic level and I think my performance will get noticed. I know I have to keep performing and when my time comes I will get my break," Yusuf said.