While his brother Yusuf is getting accolades and major opportunities, India's former strike bowler and all-rounder Irfan Pathan, is not ready to throw in the towel. He is determined to make a comeback into the Indian team, even though he was left out of the squad for next year's World Cup. It has only been a fortnight since he returned to the popping crease, after recovering from a stress reaction on his back which kept him out of the Ranji Trophy.
"I have that confidence because I have started bowling and I see it [the ball] is doing something,' Irfan told ESPNcricinfo. "I am working on something that was missing over the last two years. I am pretty sure it is going to make a big difference. If you look at my age, I am just 26. There are lots of years left in my bag." Pathan is focused on getting his zip back and his pace up to around 132 kph again.
Pathan, who had made quite an impact when he joined the Indian team in 2004 with his trademark banana swing, gradually lost his prowess for such over the years. His form took a turn for the worse in May 2006 during the one-day series in the West Indies, where he went for an economy rate of nearly 6 and took just 6 wickets in the five-match series, which India lost 1-4.
He embarked on something of a comeback in 2007, when he was included in the Indian side for the World Twenty20. Pathan was one of the highest wicket-takers of the tournament with 10 scalps, including 3/16 in the final against Pakistan.
But he played his last one-dayer against Sri Lanka in Feb 2009, going wicketless for 55 runs in 9 overs. His Test career had wrapped up in April the previous year against South Africa where he only managed none for 85 in 21.2 overs, though he made 21 and 43 with the bat. His final Twenty20 International unfolded against the West Indies in June 2009, in which he managed just 2 runs and took 1 wicket for 9 in 2 overs.
Irfan is about a months shy of being ready to play a competitive game and is willing to join cricket outside the country if he gets an chance, but looking forward to playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, India's domestic one-day tournament that will be held in February, oddly enough, at the same time as the World Cup. "I want to make sure I make an impact in that," he said.
It's been disappointing that his injury came just weeks prior to the announcement of the World Cup squad. Although frustrated for not making the cut, he accepts injuries as part of cricketer's life. "I knew because of my injury [I would not make the squad]. I need to first sort it [the injury] out," he said. "To be fit, and then match-fit. The BCCI knows about my injury. And I knew that if I have not played any matches due to injury, it will be difficult to get into the 30."
He is greatful however, to the BCCI and the National Cricket Academy for orchestrating all his medical treatment and check-ups and says that support from his family and friends keeps him bouyant.