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December 5, 2011
Irfan Pathan, the India and Baroda seamer, has said he plans to take full advantage of his recall to the India side to play the final two home ODIs against West Indies, and that he is determined to give it his best as playing for the country means "everything" to him. Irfan has not played for India since 2009. He drew attention this year because of his performances in the Ranji Trophy in which he is the leading wicket-taker in the Elite division, having taken 21 wickets from three games.
"I am really happy," Irfan told ESPNcricinfo. "I am really pleased that I have been given the opportunity and I want to make sure I take full advantage of it; make sure I do my best." Irfan was with this family when he received news of his selection, and said being able to share the news with them made the moment all the more special.
"The dream to play for the country has always been there. When it is fulfilled you feel nothing gets better than this. Having all the luxuries in life - having a big car, big house - nothing comes close to this."
Irfan's last international match for India was during the 2009 World Twenty20; his last Test match was against South Africa in April 2008. He spent most of last season out with a severe back injury and has been working hard on his fitness and bowling action since, in an attempt to get back into the frame for India. He said the toughest part of his rehabilitation was not being able to simply go out there and play but his selection has vindicated all his hard work.
"It makes every second of [the rehab] worthwhile. When you look back and you work hard and you get the chance, you feel lucky, you feel blessed."
Prior to being selected, Irfan had said his current season could be even better than his breakthrough season in 2003-04. He said he is not only feeling fitter than ever, but has learned to use the old ball much better, in addition to his ability to swing the new ball. "If you are getting set batsmen out with the old ball, it is most pleasing," he said.
Having won and lost his place in the side, Irfan isn't taking anything for granted but said it was important to be himself and not try to change too much. "Be yourself. Be confident. Do what's best for you. At the end of the day, you need to go out there and perform."
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