Indian news August 17, 2009

Irfan vows to return strongly

Cricinfo staff

Irfan Pathan, once a mainstay of the Indian bowling attack, has vowed to come back strongly in the international circuit after not being considered for the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa.

"It has been happening with me for the last five-six years," he said. "Even if I have done slightly bad, I am getting dropped. At the same time, I am not looking for excuse. As selectors have dropped me, I think I have gone one step down in terms of performance."

Pathan last represented India in a losing cause against West Indies in the ICC World Twenty20. His last one-day appearances for India were in the series in Sri Lanka, where he took four wickets but leaked 7.06 runs an over in two matches. What has also hurt his chances of making the national side is that his batting has fallen away in ODIs - he has not scored a half-century in nearly three years.

During India's dismal World Twenty20 campaign, he picked up only one wicket and did not contribute much with the bat either. He's not been a part of the Test side since the home series against South Africa in April 2008.

However, Irfan was confident of launching a successful return and had faith in his ability. "I have never run away from challenges," he said. "It's important to take challenge and move ahead in your life. I want to reach a level where no one can touch me or drop me. It's not being optimistic, it's my belief and I have full confidence in that."

Irfan came into the limelight on India's tour of Australia in 2003-04, where, in the absence of Zaheer Khan, he led the Indian attack. Since then, he has played 107 ODIs, taking 152 wickets at 29.91 and proved his skill with the bat. However, a slump in form cost him his place. Since the start of 2008, he's managed 25 wickets in 22 games with an average of 40.60, and just 17.76 with the bat.

"I am just 24-25 and I don't think many people have achieved what I have. I can go on telling about World Cup finals and so many other achievements," he said, "But at the moment, my performance is down so I am out. I am never a person with excuses. I can say a number of excuses but I don't think that's my foray. If I am dropped, that means something is wrong, I have to sort that out.

When asked if an increased focus on batting had an impact on his bowling, Irfan insisted that was not the case. "I don't think it has affected my bowling," he said. "At junior level for Baroda, I have batted at Nos 3 and 4, so I don't think it is an issue. I have always said that I am a bowler who wants to contribute with the bat as well. With the time, I am going to be an allrounder well. But I have to play continuous cricket as well."