Yusuf hopes TNPL will help him know more about Tamil Nadu

“Tournaments such as TNPL take us to the smaller centres, bring us into close contact with the people,” said Yusuf Pathan.

Yusuf Pathan is looking forward to travel to the districts and learn about Tamil Nadu.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Apart from landing the big blows with the willow, Yusuf Pathan is keen to know more about the culture of Tamil Nadu.

The former India all-rounder, who has signed up for the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), wants to travel to the districts, pick up little things about the State.

Talking to Sportstar on Friday, he said, “Of course, I want to play good cricket, win matches for my franchise. But I also want to know more about the people of Tamil Nadu, see new places, make new friends. That is what a cricketing journey is all about.”

The 34-year-old Yusuf added, “Tournaments such as TNPL take us to the smaller centres, bring us into close contact with the people.”

Apart from Chennai, the TNPL games will be played at Dindigul and Tirunelveli.

Yusuf, who has represented India in 57 ODIs and 22 Twenty20 games, revealed it was his brother, Irfan, who first informed him about the TNPL.

“Irfan told me about the competition. He had got an offer but he had other engagements during this part of the year. Then the organisers got in touch with me. I was free and I was interested in the tournament,” Yusuf said.

He had followed TNPL action on television last year. “I watched a few games on television. The standard of cricket was good. The matches were well contested. The crowds were good.”

Yusuf is also looking forward to catching up with his friends from Tamil Nadu. “Ashwin, Vijay, Karthik, Balaji, Abhinav, I will meet them all during my stay in Tamil Nadu. It will be good fun.”

He has fond memories of playing in Chennai. “I have played many games here including the match against the West Indies in the 2011 ODI World Cup. We won that game and it was an unforgettable experience.”

Yusuf said, “I have played several domestic matches in Chennai, including Ranji Trophy matches. I have also been here for the Buchi Babu tournament.”

He admired the spectators here for their knowledge about the game. “They know so much about cricket and really appreciate good play. The crowd here is also very sporting,” said Yusuf.

A star performer for a leading side such as the Kolkata Knight Riders, Yusuf is familiar with the razzle dazzle of the IPL.

The TNPL will be a much smaller stage but Yusuf said, “As cricketers our job is to play the game to the best of our ability.”

Yusuf has one concern though. “I hope the BCCI grants us permission to play in the TNPL,” he said.