Yusuf Pathan talks about his Test dreams, and his love for wildlife photography
When Yusuf Pathan is on a roll, it’s quite challenging for the bowler to make him stop. But when he is at an interview, it is quite a task for the reporter to make him talk. His demeanour off field is a contrast to his powerful batting that he is often known for. He is a man of few words, talks in whispers and looks uncomfortable when asked to speak louder. “I have always been this way,” says the cricketer.
While his India team mates are in South Africa, he’s in Chennai leading Baroda for the Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu. Despite a fairly successful ODI tour to South Africa in 2011, Yusuf says he missed out on the opportunity this time because he had been injury-ridden for the last two seasons. “I also had a fracture. I missed many matches. But I am back to playing now and focussing on the domestic matches on hand,” he adds.
It’s been five years since he made it to the one day squad but he is yet to make his test debut. Since his batting seems more suited to the shorter format of the game does he see himself primarily as a limited-over player? “My aim is to play Test cricket for the country. I want to keep playing well whatever formats I am playing now and make it to the Test team.” He recalls the exhilarating experience when he made it to the one-day team. “Irfan (Pathan) gave me my blue cap. There was an excitement to meet Sachin Tendulkar. It’s fantastic to be sharing a dressing room with your idols,” he adds. About the cash-rich IPL that has been instrumental in catapulting Yusuf to fame, he says, “It’s a great initiative especially for young players. The effects of IPL can be seen in Ranji matches. Youngsters know that if they do well in Ranji matches they will get selected to play the IPL.” For him another interesting aspect of the League is that players get to be in the same team as international cricketers who have been their role models. “You get to watch them up close, follow their schedule and know why they are the best in what they do. I keenly observed Shane Warne’s game when I played for Rajasthan Royals. After getting to play with such stars in the IPL when you play for India and against them it reduces the anxiety level because you know them and their game.” His favourite batsmen maybe Tendulkar, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist but when it comes to bowlers it is his brother. “It’s tough playing Irfan’s bowling. Even when we play the IPL I do not want to get out to his delivery,” he grins. Apart from this sport, the 31-year-old also enjoys wildlife photography. For the last three years, he has been visiting wildlife sanctuaries armed with his Nikon DSLR. “I have also been to Bandipur, Bannerghatta, the reserves in South Africa... Lions are my favourite, and so are birds. I keep hearing about Vedanthangal but I haven’t yet had the time to go there.” When he’s home, apart from spending time with his family, he is busy with his pets and gardening. ““I also enjoy being by myself.” But now that he’s married, does he get enough ‘me’ time? To that the cricketer just laughs and shakes his head. Is that a yes or no, we’ll never know.