India news February 21, 2012

Yusuf determined to reclaim India place

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Allrounder Yusuf Pathan has recovered from a knee injury and is determined to work his way back into the Indian limited-overs team. Yusuf's only game for India since a disappointing one-day series in the West Indies was a one-off Twenty20 international against England last October; but with Baroda's Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign beginning on Wednesday, with a match against Mumbai, and the IPL in April, he has the opportunity to impress the selectors. One incentive for Yusuf to get back into the national conversation is the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, which will be played in Sri Lanka in September.

"What has happened in the past is gone," Yusuf told ESPNcricinfo. "But there is a lot to look forward to." Apart from the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, Baroda have also qualified for the domestic Twenty20 competition's knockout stages. Then there is the IPL. "There is a lot of cricket ahead. I have managed my body well over the past two months. I am waiting for my chance."

A little over a year ago, Yusuf Pathan cemented his place in India's World Cup plans with a brutal 68-ball century against South Africa in Centurion. India, 119 for 8 at one stage, lost the game by 33 runs, but Yusuf's ability to turn a match on its head ensured that he would be part of a journey to World Cup success.

Unfortunately, that's when things started to go wrong. An average World Cup for him was followed by the poor tour of the West Indies - he managed 42 runs from four innings - and he subsequently lost his place in the side. A knee injury then kept Yusuf out of the Ranji Trophy. Now, exactly 13 months on from that hundred, the 29-year-old Yusuf finds himself back where he started

The Vijay Hazare tournament gives him the first platform to find his way back and while confident that he will be on the plane to Sri Lanka in September he does not want to get too far ahead of himself. For now, his focus is on the one-day tournament, he said. "I always think only about what's next."

One of the criticisms of Yusuf has been that he needs to adopt a more judicious approach to his batting but Yusuf said he was not going to abandon the aggressive attitude that has helped him get this far. "It is how I scored my hundreds against South Africa and New Zealand [in Bangalore]. It has been my approach since I started playing cricket."

That does not mean he isn't prepared to work on his game. He has spent the last month and a half at the National Cricket Academy ironing out any potential kinks that might have crept in ("there are always some little things that can go wrong") and has been talking to coaches and former players, such as Kiran More, about how to approach certain situations. Yet he understands that it is his ability to hit the ball a long way that makes him stand out. "I need to concentrate and play to my strengths. Whatever team I play for, be it Baroda, be it in the IPL, be it for West Zone, in tough situations my approach has been the same and I have won games for my team."

His international ambitions aside, Baroda need Yusuf to make runs too if they are going to have a chance to win the Vijay Hazare Trophy. They are a young side and it is often the case that as Yusuf goes, so does Baroda. Yusuf is not only acutely aware of this responsibility, but welcomes it. "The team depends on me. When I play well, we win one-sided games."

It is that last sentiment that he hopes to be able to express for India too.

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 23, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    Wish u all the very best Yusuf Pathan :)

  • Sano27 on February 23, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    One of my favourite players...guys like him will be an asset to any team who can change the cause of the match...team India needs his presence if he can regain his form....he's a match winner rather than Jadeja who is an average bowler & an OK batsman...!

  • Haleos on February 23, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    why do people bring religion in sports? Yusuf is an Indian. Period. not Afghan not anything else.

  • Bruisers on February 23, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    @ExplicitPlatinum - LOL. Should we try players only if they are Shahid Afridis..?? Hahaha. Yes, Yusuf is no Afridi.. But Yusuf Pathan IS 'YUSUF PATHAN'...!

  • cricketqatar on February 23, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    if india looking next all rounder for Asia cup, better option is karnataka STUART BINNY. he is a current domestic top all rounder..

  • satish619chandar on February 23, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    If at all India needs a hitter in the lineup, i would have Uthappa for Yusuf anyday.. Uthappa is more of a batsman who can hit well and can play in any position and handles the short ball far far better than Yusuf.. As of now, Gauti, Viru, Virat, Yuvi, Dhoni, Raina, Irfan, Jadeja, Ashwin, Vinay/Praveen and Zak(Or any fast bowler) should be the 11 for the T20 games.. In case India need a big hitter, they can pick Uthappa in place of Jadeja as Yuvi can shoulder the fifth bowling slot..

  • passionate_cricket_follower on February 22, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    @ExplicitPlatinum Shahid Afridi is the biggest wasted talent for Pakistan when it comes to batting. True, he can be in the team for his bowling skills alone (which he is right now!); but he could have won Pakistan far more matches with his batting than he has actually done. More so, he could played 100 tests along with his 350 odd one-dayers had he a better temperament. We don't actually want Yusuf's batting go the same way as Afridi's.

  • Unmesh_cric on February 22, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    Yusuf Pathan is one of my favourite players. He can win games single handedly. Agreed, he is a bit inconsistent. He needs to take some singles sometimes instead always going for shots. The thing I like about Yusuf is he never gives up..even if it is 200 needed from last 20 overs. I remember his inning in South Africa. He was giving hard time to the likes of Steyn and Morkel. He almost won that match single handedly when nobody would have thought there is even a remote chance. Part of the reason Yusuf hasn't done that well is the way Dhoni handles him. He always sends him in the PowerPlay. So he goes for his shots from the first ball and gets out. Good luck, Yusuf..I hope you get your India cap back.

  • Sports4Youth on February 22, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    Bad luck Yousuf. You missed the bus. Now there are too many all-rounders in India. The Spinning all-rounders being Jadega and R.Ashwin and the medium pace all-rounder Irfan Pathan (your brother) is going well in in Australi CB series.

  • dummy4fb on February 22, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    good if he return to National squad

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