With immense talent at his disposal, Yusuf Pathan has always played with his heart on his sleeve. But the 28-year-old attacking batsman is now trying to find a way back into the Indian side.
Often criticised for his overly aggressive approach, Yusuf still remains one of India’s finest match-winners. And the right-hander is now simply concentrating on trying to score big in domestic cricket.
"At present, I'm focusing on getting back in the team and for that I have to score consistently. I am working very hard. Ever since I started playing the game, I have dreamt of representing the country. It's an honour to play for India. If I keep on working hard nothing is impossible. Hopefully, I will win more matches for my country. Of late, I have been playing a lot of Twenty20 cricket so it's good to play in the Challenger Trophy where I have done well in the past. I hope to do well this time, too," Yusuf, who will play for India Red, told The Times of India.
Experts have often criticised him for not being consistent, but Yusuf maintains that he has always played for the team's cause.
"We have a very talented batting line-up. More often than not, one of the top-order batsmen scores big. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh love to bat long. When I go in to bat, I normally get five to eight overs in which I have to score as many runs as possible. You can't do that without taking risks. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. It can go either way. But I always try to give it my best shot. I won't be making hundreds everyday, but if my quick 30s or 40s can make a difference, I will be a happy man," he said.
Pathan goes on to emphasise his versatility as a cricketer and reveals that he doesn’t like being called just a T20 or a ODI specialist.
"I can play at any position. If the team management wants me to bat up the order, I am ready for it. Whenever I spent time in the middle I have made it count. Last year, I scored a match-winning hundred against New Zealand and then scored another hundred against South Africa. Besides, I have also scored big hundreds in Ranji and Duleep Trophy over the years. I enjoy batting for long periods. The T20 craze has started only now, but I have been playing first-class cricket for a decade. I would also like to play Test matches. It's unfair to label me as one-day specialist," he said.
His critics call him a one-dimensional player, who knows to bat only in top gear, but Yusuf disagrees. "There is more to my batting than just hitting. You can't succeed at the international level if you have limited strokes. I can play all-round the wicket. If you analyze my hundreds, you will see I have scored runs on both sides of the wicket. I like to play aggressively and that's the way I have played cricket all my life and I will continue to do so," he added.