K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Vadodara: The cheers were spontaneous and the clamour for a picture with him never subsided. Yusuf Pathan smiled a bit, paused a bit and in between the warm embraces from officials — both from the Baroda Cricket Association and Reliance Industries — the elder of the Pathan brothers, was answering incessant calls on his cellphone.
Life has changed for him ever since he returned with the triumphant Indian team after the World Twenty20 Championship. “Before I was known only here,” Yusuf said and pointed out to the fans and officials assembled at the Reliance Cricket Stadium, his home ground, here on Friday.
“And now everyone knows me, yes in that sense things have changed forever,” Yusuf added. Yusuf was at the Reliance Stadium to attend a felicitation function organised by Reliance Industries and the company officials also presented him with a cheque for Rs. 2,00,100.
Yusuf donned India colours for the first time in the final at Johannesburg and the setting had pressure as its backdrop — an India-Pakistan final and he as an opener was facing Mohammad Asif. Any touch of nerves before the match? “Yes there was pressure. I was informed about me playing as an opener after the team meeting on the morning of the final. I had about three to four hours to get mentally prepared for the match and captain Dhoni, Yuvraj and Sehwag told me to play my natural game and asked me not to think too much about the game so that I don’t get affected by the pressure,” Yusuf replied.
What about the six off Asif in the first over? “It was not a pre-determined shot. The ball was in the range for my lofted shot and I went through with it. I was relaxed once I was there in the middle, I prayed a bit and it was a great feeling to be part of a team that won the cup. I will never ever forget that day as well as the reception we got in Mumbai,” said the 24-year-old Baroda all-rounder.
So has he finally emerged from Irfan Pathan’s shadow? “Does it matter, he is my brother and I am proud of him. What’s the harm in people referring to me as Irfan’s brother? I have no problems with that, after all we are brothers,” Yusuf said with a smile playing on his lips.