NEW DELHI: Having made a remarkable return to the cricket field for his Ranji side Baroda, India all-rounder Irfan Pathan today said that rather than speaking about international comeback he would let his performance do the talking.
Irfan, who returned after a long lay-off, not only bagged a six-for against Gujarat but also scored a gritty 58. The all-rounder then picked three wickets in each innings in his side's win against Punjab last week. The left-armer is keen to make his presence felt but only through performance.
"I don't want to shift my focus away by just talking. My focus is to play well for Baroda and perform to the best of my ability. I am willing to bat or bowl at any position in terms of contributing to my team. And I also want to share my experience not only with myself but also with my teammates. Talking about my own comeback, I don't want to talk about myself. Rather I'd prefer my performance to do the talking for me," Irfan told PTI in an interview.
With an all-rounder's slot up for grabs in the Indian team, Irfan, who last played an ODI in August 2012, has the right "feeling" going as far as his bowling and batting is concerned.
"As I will keep playing more matches, my batting feel will improve. There is a feeling of batting or bowling and that is there with a player. I have had a good start and it will only improve. I have always believed that I am a rhythmic cricketer, whether bowling or batting, the more I play the better I will become," said the southpaw.
"It's good that my performance has been good in the first two matches itself. The feeling in my batting is like what I felt when I was at the peak of my performance in international cricket in 2007-08, exactly that's how I feel now. I am getting time, the things that I had been working on have worked.
"Baroda's ex assistant coach Milap Mawana worked with me during my off season and his stint really worked for me. It felt good to work with him and there is still a lot of season left and I am sure my performance will only get better," he added.
The 31-year-old also brushed aside injury concerns that plagued his career so far.
"Look, injuries are part and parcel of a sportsperson's life. I have always said that you will never get injured while sitting at home on a sofa. I always believe that getting injured is not a crime. There is so much criticism when a player gets injured that you feel frustrated. No one wants to get injured, it's normal in a player's life" he said. The great Imran Khan once talked highly of the Baroda cricketer, saying, "Irfan is a cricketer who will scale great heights and is a lion hearted cricketer". Mention the remark and Irfan says that a person's talent cannot be judged on the basis of expectations.
After making his debut in 2003 against Australia in Adelaide, Irfan has claimed 100 wickets and scored 1105 runs in 29 Test matches, besides taking 173 wickets and scoring 1544 runs in 120 One-Day Internationals so far.
"It's an honour to be thought about so highly by such legends, but it is difficult to measure your success or failure. There are different measures that you can put to judge a player's merit. Like 300 or 400 or 500 wickets. Now I will give you a stat that I am fourth on the list of all-time left-armers to bag maximum number of international wickets.
"I have taken more than 300 international wickets, so when you have done so much, how can people say that I haven't lived up to my talent," Irfan said.
"Yes, expectations of different people can be different, but for me you just need to take one day at a time and just follow your instincts and pray that things fall into place. You can't think too much ahead of yourself, you never know what's going to happen next.
"You just need to think what you can do now and how you can use your experience. Yes I am proud to have represented my country at the highest level. But being happy and proud are two different things. I am happy about my achievements, but not content or satisfied. That's why I playing first-class cricket and looking forward to get back to the top. I am hungry for more and that drive keeps me going," he added.
Having played under Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mahhendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan believes that Virat Kohli's captaincy style is totally different and is working well for the current Test team.
"Different captains have different styles of working. All the captains that I played under, all had different attitudes. And the team also reacts the way your captain reacts. It all comes down to how the captain is handling his team. And Virat is handling the team very well. What we saw in Sri Lanka and in the two Tests against South Africa was just fantastic.
"I am really enjoying watching his captaincy and wish him and the team luck for all their future endeavours. As far as I am concerned, well, I am having real fun these days and enjoying my cricket," he concluded.