A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Irfan Pathan determined to make Test comeback

Pathan last played a Test match in 2008

After spending nearly five years on the sidelines and occasionally being used from time to time during India’s limited overs series, left-arm pace bowler Irfan Pathan has announced his desire and intentions to make his Test comeback.

Pathan believes he has been ignored for too long and is ready to show what he is capable of with the ball in his hands.

“Not playing Test cricket for so many years is a different thing, but now I know I can play Test cricket again,” Pathan told PTI. “I have made a promise to myself and I will fulfil that dream.”

Pathan, who was compared to a young Kapil Dev when he started his international career, stated that his critics were wrong about the fact that he would never play international cricket again after being dropped from the ODI team three years ago.

“Three years ago a lot of people said I am not going to play international cricket ever again,” Pathan said. “But I knew I am going to play it again. I started playing first class cricket and made my comeback in Australia (in T20s and ODIs on 2011-12 tour) even though everyone had written me off.

“I am working towards my goal and I am pretty sure it’s going to happen sooner or later. Only one man can stop me from playing Test cricket – obviously there’s selection but that’s a different thing – and that’s me if I don’t work towards my goal.”

Prior to injuring his left knee, Pathan felt as though he was “pretty close to playing Test cricket” once again.

“When I was injured I was pretty close to playing Test cricket,” he said. “I was feeling like I was knocking the door because I was there in the India A practice game against England. I was feeling really good and was doing well in one-day cricket.”

To this day, Pathan still does not know why he was dropped from the Test squad in 2008 during India’s home series against South Africa, but he has vowed to forget about the past and concentrate on the future.

“When I was dropped, I had been declared the man of the match in my third to last Test (at Perth),” he said. “I am still searching for the reason why I did not play (later). There could be many reasons, but I like to see forward. The way things are going and I am bowling, I am pretty satisfied.”

Pathan still sees himself as an all-rounder since he has taken 100 Test wickets in 29 matches and has also scored 1,100 runs at a decent average of 31.

“I am still in the same category, as a bowler who can bat,” he said. “My forte is swing. I’m batting well. When I made my comeback I had a few contributions through match winning partnerships with (Suresh) Raina and with (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni. Luckily my bowling is going well. I am feeling very confident as a batsman as well as a bowler.”

However, he was quick to dismiss speculation that he could consistently bowl at 140 kph.

“I never bowl consistently at 140,” he said. “I don’t know where this whole perception of me bowling at 140 consistently started. I was never a bowler like that, never a quick bowler.

“I bowl consistently at 135 and in between my pace comes down to 130 and sometimes to 127. There have been times when we go to Australia or where quick pitches are there when you bowl one ball at 140 or try to consistently bowl 135-plus.

“If you look at the fast bowlers who have come from Australia, they bowl consistently at 150 in Australia and are hardly touching 140 now. My speed went down in between, yes. But it was to do with the injury…with the action.

“I am happy with my speed right now – between 130 and 135 – and if I could swing the ball late like I am swinging right now. If you ask any cricketer who has played good cricket he will tell you this is the perfect speed for a swing bowler. If I can actually swing the ball if I bowl 130-135, it’s more than enough.”

The left-arm seamer is also hoping to be given more responsibility once he rejoins the Test team.

“What I am aiming for is to take more responsibility whether I am playing for the country or playing domestic cricket, or anywhere else,” he said. “I want to take responsibility – with new ball, old ball or bowling in the death. I don’t mind bowling all the overs in power play and that’s what I have started working on.

“I just want to go out and perform very well. I never indulge in unnecessary talk. I am a big believer in ‘if you can’t do it, don’t talk’. Because I know I can do it and that’s why I am talking.

“I will fulfil this short term goal I have…to become a responsible bowler under any captain – Indian captain, domestic or IPL. That’s what I am working on and I am going to achieve it. It may take one or two months but I am going to achieve it, for sure.”

Pathan’s next goal is to be included in the India squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy in June, which is set to be hosted by England.

“That’s the goal, but I am going to start it with domestic cricket for Baroda,” he added. “It has to start somewhere. It’s going to be a long season and it’s going to be a good and strong season for me. Good performances would come out from my side.”

Pathan also noted that he was ready to bat at any position on the line-up, whether it be seventh or open.

“I will bat anywhere, it’s the team’s call and whatever the captain demands of me,” he said. “I have done that (open) before because whatever captain I had played under they know I will never say no to anything, whether under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy or under Dhoni when I played in Sri Lanka (in last year’s T20 World Championship).

“When you are batting at number 7 or 8 the team expects you to perform with the bat as well. I have been working on a lot of things over the last two years. It showed in my performances in Sri Lanka and in Australia when I batted in the power plays.

“Even in bowling where my forte is swing, I never shy away from bowling with the old ball or bowling at the death.”

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