'Want to be India's go-to bowler' - Irfan
Allrounder Irfan Pathan, who was picked in India's squad on Saturday for the Champions Trophy, has said he is keen on taking on more "responsibility" in the team. Irfan last played for India at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, before picking up a hamstring injury in the Ranji Trophy that kept him out of the home season. Irfan pointed out that he was in good touch in the last ODI series he played before the injury break, and so was confident of being named in the squad.
"A lot of people were talking about my 'comeback', but most people forget that my last ODI before I left due to an injury was a Man-of-the-Match performance. I had taken a five-for in India's victory against Sri Lanka in 2012," Irfan told the IPL site. "People have a very short memory about performances, but I was always confident that I would get into the ODI squad for India.
"Now I want to take up more and more responsibility. I want to bowl in a lot of tough situations and I want to make sure that I am the go-to bowler for the captain."
India had won that one-day series in Sri Lanka in July-August 4-1, and Irfan had by far the best record among the bowlers, with eight wickets at 26.37. Apart from part-timer Manoj Tiwary, none of the other India bowler managed an average below 39.
While he is looking forward to the helpful conditions in England, Irfan said he will not get carried away but focus on accuracy. "Any bowler would love to go and bowl in England were the wickets are friendly for the fast bowlers. But it is easier said than done. One has to make sure you 'bowl', rather than just releasing the ball from your hand.
"Bowling in the right areas is very important. If you bowl consistently in the right areas, more often than not wickets will come your way. No matter how good the bowler is, how quick the bowler is or how lethal he is with swing, bowling in the right areas is of prime concern. That will be my focus in the games to come."
Irfan is one of five pace bowlers in the squad, alongside Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Vinay Kumar. That would mean a lot of competition among the seamers to make the XI, but he is not concerned about that at the moment Irfan said: "Frankly, I am not worried about it. I know it will depend on the team combinations at the end of the day. My mission is to do well in the tournament. I will start working towards it from the moment we land there in England. I want to make the most of whatever preparations we get there and be completely ready before ball one.
"I have worked really hard on my fitness and my game. I have tremendous self-belief that I am only going to get better from here. I feel the next few years are going to be my years in cricket."