In the city to launch a fitness concept store, pace bowler Irfan Pathan takes time off to talk about what keeps him busy when he’s not playing cricket

Irfan Pathan has been playing for India for almost ten years now. He’s been interacting with the media for just as long. Is there any particular question that irks him? “Journalists ask questions about my bowling. They say, ‘You’ve lost your pace.’ Honestly, I don’t know who they’ve been watching because I always bowled at around 135kmph and that’s the speed I maintain,” he laughs, adding, “I have got used to these questions now and learnt to handle them.”

It’s been a year since Pathan played a match for India. A hamstring injury kept him out of the tri-series earlier this year. “But I am back to my normal fitness level now. I’ll be playing a few matches in the next few weeks. Moin-ud-Dowla, domestic matches and then the Ranji season will start,” he says. IPL was the last we saw of him. Is it tough staying away from the game due to injuries? “Yeah, but you’ve got to have faith. Be a believer,” he says.

Relaxing with family

What does he do when he’s not playing cricket? “I train,” he replies in all earnest. Err…no we mean, what do you do for fun? “I catch up with relatives. I am very close to my family. I watch a lot of movies. I love driving and we have a good highway in Baroda, so I roll my windows down and enjoy the drive...I am a safe driver,” he quickly adds.

Pathan believes that there are changes in the game and with more matches being played these days there’s more wear and tear on the players’ bodies. “Now we barely get two months off in a year. I have been playing domestic and international matches. It’s been 15 years and injuries happen. I take help from gyms to recuperate. Every time I travel to Delhi or Mumbai I go to the Cross-Fit gym at Reebok. You need to keep varying your exercises,” says the long-limbed cricketer who was in the city for the launch of Reebok’s fit hub concept store at Forum Vijaya Mall. And who do their parents support when Irfan (Delhi Daredevils) and big brother Yusuf (Kolkata Knight Riders) play each other during IPL matches? “Earlier, I guess it was difficult for them but, over the years, it’s been a win-win situation for them. No matter which one of the two teams wins, there’s a Pathan in it,” he laughs. Sometimes, his cousins text him complaining about why he took a particular catch or bowled a particular delivery to get his brother out. All that’s part of the fun, he says and, while playing a match, the focus is on doing well for the team. After IPL matches, the brothers often joke about getting each other out in the next game or hitting each other for a big one over the boundary. “We train together when we are in Baroda. We are both disciplined when it comes to the game but I would say I have the upper hand. And since he’s older, I trouble him a lot,” smiles the younger Pathan.