Irfan targets playing full domestic season
India allrounder Irfan Pathan has hit back at criticism suggesting he has prioritised Twenty20 cricket over the first-class format, and said he was targeting playing a full domestic season to boost his case for a comeback to the India side. The allrounder last played for India in the 2012 World T20 and has since struggled with injuries. In the last two domestic seasons, Irfan has played just five first-class games, including four in the Ranji Trophy, but has played more matches in the limited-overs tournaments.
Irfan last bowled in the first-class format during the 2012-13 season, in which he sent down 44 overs during a Ranji Trophy match and an India A game against an England XI. During the 2013-14 season, he played three matches for Baroda only as a batsman. In T20s across the same period, Irfan bowled more than 100 overs and played in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the IPL, for Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
"When anyone questions my credentials in the team, it really hurts but I don't think too much about it. When people talk about not playing the last two domestic seasons, they don't talk about me playing as a batsman for half of the Ranji season even when the physio had told me to wait," Irfan told ESPNcricinfo after the launch of Cricket Academy of Pathans, a forum created with brother Yusuf, that aims at conducting short-term training modules for budding cricketers.
"The physio had told me I couldn't do any harm if I played as a batsman. I could have easily taken that away and sat out. But I thought it was my duty to serve Baroda cricket, and [for] half of the season I played as a batsman when I could have easily said 'Let me get fully fit and I would wait and play only as a bowling allrounder'. Besides, I played one-day cricket and the Mushtaq Ali Trophy as well. People in Baroda cricket and those who know me know well that just before the Mushtaq Ali Trophy I had typhoid. And I hadn't recovered fully.
"I want to make sure that those kind of questions don't arise. People don't talk about it which is very unfortunate. You know what you are doing, you believe in God and you know you are honest. So eventually, I keep working hard towards playing for country again which I will do very soon. Let people talk what they want to talk."
Irfan was confident about an India comeback and said that the larger goal for him was to get fitter and better by playing more games.
"Yes, the World Cup is in mind. But at the same time I need to be realistic, making sure to play as many Ranji Trophy matches and a full domestic season," Irfan said.
"Once I do that, as a bowler you know that the more matches he plays the better he gets, the fitter he gets. His bowling gets to the level which he wants. I also want to do the same by playing as many matches as many possible. And then there is an aim of playing for India. That may happen either before the World Cup or after it. But that's gonna happen for sure."
Irfan had been picked in India's squad for the Champions Trophy in England last year but did not get a game. He was a part of the squad for the tri-series in West Indies but was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. He then suffered a rib injury that sidelined him for the early part of last season's Ranji Trophy.