Irfan Pathan, the allrounder, has downplayed the Indian board's request to prove his fitness to confirm his place in India's World Cup squad. Pathan, 22, said that despite feeling confident about playing in the recent series against Sri Lanka, the team management advised him to rest.

"I had the problem on the day I went to Kolkata for the first ODI against Sri Lanka. But it was a minor thing and I was ready to play the last game. But [captain] Rahul Dravid didn't want to take a chance, in case I pull up anything," Pathan told PTI. "It is not a major injury and the team physio and the management, and even the selectors are aware of it."

Pathan missed the four ODIs against Sri Lanka, prompting the BCCI to ask him to play in West Zone's opening game of the Deodhar Trophy zonal one-dayers against Central Zone on February 25 at Ahmedabad to prove his fitness.

Pathan said he was looking forward to the Deodhar Trophy game: "In international matches, there is always pressure. There is going to be no extra pressure on me. I am going to bowl my heart out and the full 10 overs".

The last 12 months have been a huge learning curve for Pathan, hailed by many as the allrounder India were searching for since Kapil Dev retired. Since Greg Chappell took over as coach in the middle of 2005, Pathan's batting improved but a drastic decline in bowling form has prompted much speculation and criticism.

Pathan was sent back home midway through the tour of South Africa to sort out his bowling before being brought back for the last ODI against the West Indies on January 31. He admitted that while his figures were expensive in that match, he was happy with his form.

"In the Baroda game, I felt I bowled well. Any bowler will go for runs when the batsmen are chasing a target of more than 300," he said. "But the team management knows how I did. I bowled in the right areas and felt good.

"The events of the last few months have made me strong. I am happy to go through this phase when I am 22 and not at 28. I am sure I will benefit from all this and do well in the future."