The time spent in wilderness, he says, has not eroded his self-belief, and the Delhi Daredevils all-rounder is still confident of making a comeback to the national side.
One of the most experienced international players in the Delhi line-up, Irfan adds that he is not swayed by pressures and is supremely confident of a return.
“Since my cricketing days for the Indian team, pressure has always remained with me. It has been there all the time. The pressure has always chased me and it will remain until I play the last ball of my cricketing career,” Pathan said on Saturday.
“As long as you think of pressure it will always be there. So just relax and play your natural game. I will enter the stadium tomorrow with a relaxed mind as that will help me and my team to perform better,” the lanky left-armer said.
Pathan was laid low by a spate of injuries over the last one year but the Baroda player finished his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore just in time to present his case for the IPL.
Pathan was bought by the GMR group-owned franchise for $1.9 million at the players’ auction held in January this year.
“My fitness level is good and I am feeling fit and fine ahead of the first match. I just want to fulfill my team’s expectations and have a good IPL so as to make a comeback to the national side,” he said.
Part of the Kings XI Punjab franchise till the last year, Pathan will now share the dressing room with former India teammate Virender Sehwag, skipper of Delhi Daredevils, and the 26-year-old termed the Indian opener as the “most destructive” batsman in the league.
“Virender Sehwag is the most destructive batsman in the IPL. There is no doubt about that. He will be the most feared player. After him Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj Singh and West Indian Kieron Pollard are the other players.”
On his team’s chances in the fourth edition of the T20 league, Pathan said, “I will be very happy if my team reaches the semifinals or final of the tournament. We have got a young bunch of players. A very new-look team. Sehwag is the captain and he is such a great cricketer. He has the positive attitude and that will lead us to the victory.”
Talking about Sunday’s game, Pathan said he is ready to perform to the fullest and make his presence felt.
“I will give my 100 per cent. Mumbai Indians are a good side and we would love to start on a winning note. I am thinking of just one match at a time. It’s not about Mumbai Indians or any other team, it’s about taking one game at a time.”
“We have got bright youngsters who can do the job for us. That’s what you require in a T20 game. I am pretty sure that this edition of the IPL will throw some superstars of tomorrow. I am pretty confident that they will make big name for themselves. Superstars are in the making for sure,” he said.
Asked about missing the World Cup, which India won after a hiatus of 28 years, Pathan grew emotional.
“It was a great feeling. I was really happy for the team that they have won the World Cup. That happiness was combined with Yusuf (Pathan’s elder brother) lifting Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders. That was outstanding. Those memories will always remain with me forever and it was a proud moment for the Pathan family,” he said.