Hardik Pandya’s emergence as an all-rounder has Indian cricket excited with comparisons to Kapil Dev being thrown around.  It is something his fellow-Statemate Irfan Pathan knows all too well before his international career stalled five years ago. However, the soon to be 33-year old, in a chat with Sportstar after Baroda’s Ranji game against Andhra, said a national comeback is not beyond his reach. 

He has Ashish Nehra, who will retire from all forms of the game shortly, to take inspiration from and Pathan says, “He has been a wonderful warrior. He has done very well to make a comeback at this age and shows anyone can do it. I am not that old and I am working hard and my fitness is very good now.”

“I want to improve my fielding but I am not thinking ahead of myself.” For someone who made big mark when he made his debut in 2003 as a 19-year old, much was expected of him as a genuine pace-bowling all-rounder. But injuries and subsequent drop of pace meant he only played 29 Tests, the last almost a decade ago.

Not about excuses

When asked about not matching up to the expectations, Pathan said, “In terms of [having the potential] and letting down [in terms of delivering], you always have excuses and international cricket is not about excuses. But I am in the top five in the world among left-arm pacers when it comes to wickets in international cricket.

“Talking about career going down, people expected me to take 500 international wickets. Expectations can be anything. But I think it is unfair to dismiss 300 international wickets and 3000 runs I have made."

Commenting on suggestions that focus on his batting distracted his bowling, Pathan felt he would have liked to have a few more chances. “It is something people have started talking about now, but I was into batting always. I used to bat at No. 3 for Baroda in Vijay Merchant under-16 tournaments. So it is not something I picked up later. 

“I would have loved to have more opportunities when I got injured after I took a five-wicket haul in my last ODI. I was out of the team not because of form but [only due to] injury. Once I got fit again, I would have loved to have a chance.” 

For now, Pathan is content with helping Baroda cricket go through a rebuilding phase and leading the side as a senior pro. “There are no regrets. I like to see the brighter side. Looking back from where I come from and where I reached, I feel lucky to have played for India and been part of some glorious moments in Indian cricket.”