Yusuf: 'I am happy that the Board gave me a chance to bounce back'

The swashbuckling all-rounder is set to play in the Dhaka Premier League after serving a five-month ban for a doping violation.

Yusuf Pathan, seen here in a Kolkata Knight Riders jersey, is set to play in the Dhaka Premier League.   -  PTI

Yusuf Pathan, coming out of a five-month ban imposed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a doping violation, is set to play in the Dhaka Premier League, which begins on February 5.

With the suspension running till January 15, Yusuf missed most of the Ranji Trophy season and was also not a part of the Baroda squad for Syed Mushtaq Ali T20.

The tournament, held in Bangladesh, has seen the participation of quite a few star cricketers in the recent years. “I have not been playing for few months now, and that is why I have decided to play the league. It will be a good preparation,” Yusuf told Sportstar during a chat — his first-ever after coming out of suspension — on Tuesday.

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“I am looking forward to playing a few games. Every year, the tournament sees participation of some big names and I am hoping to play good competitive cricket.”

In the past, Yusuf had played for Abahani in the tournament.

The 35-year-old all-rounder had provided his urine sample as part of the BCCI’s anti-doping testing programme during a domestic T20 competition in New Delhi in March last year, and tested positive. Later it was found that Yusuf had ‘inadvertently ingested a prohibited substance (Terbutaline),' which can be commonly found in cough syrups.

“It was quite unfortunate, and I had no clue about it. There is no alibi. In the past, there have been so many dope tests and they have all tested negative. I have always been clear,” Yusuf said, quickly adding: “Galti hua hai, kuchh kar nahi sakte hai (It’s a mistake, and nothing can be done about it)…”

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“When you are travelling with the team, there are times when you feel feverish. I took the cough syrup as suggested by the team physio. I think even he did not know that it contained that substance,” Yusuf rued.

In his international career, Yusuf has played 57 ODIs and 22 T20Is for India between 2008 and 2012. He was also part of the squads that won the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 and the World Cup in 2011.

Yusuf is happy with the way BCCI has supported him. “The Board handled the matter well. There was an inquiry, and the panel was satisfied with my explanation. I am happy that the Board gave me a chance to bounce back,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf, however, is not the first Indian cricketer to have been suspended for doping violation. In 2013, Delhi pacer Pradeep Sangwan was suspended for in-taking banned substance, Stanozolol.

With cricketers, too, falling prey to such violations, what is the way out?

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Yusuf believes that only being careful won’t help. “Look, in life there are situations which you can’t predict. If it has to happen, it will happen no matter how careful you are. When you are unwell, you do not know what to do. In those situations, you take whatever medicine the team doctor or physio suggests. How can you predict that things will go haywire?” he questioned.

In the last five months, Yusuf has spent time with his family and has made it a point to train with his younger brother Irfan. “I am thankful that there is no injury, and I am fit to play. Had I been out injured for five months, my confidence would have gone for a toss. For a player, coming from an injury is always tough,” he said.

Yusuf hammered centuries in both the innings in the Ranji Trophy opener against Madhya Pradesh, and was hoping to keep the momentum going. “It was unfortunate to see the good start end abruptly. My confidence was high. But now, I have learnt to deal with it,” he said.

Yusuf hopes to get picked by an IPL franchise. Having played for Kolkata Knight Riders in the past, Yusuf has been released by the franchise this time. 

“If there is a way, every team would ideally want to keep all its old players as that would give it a chance to maintain the core group intact. Even for a player, it is good if he goes back to the old franchise, but the auction is always about surprises,” Yusuf said.

He, however, ducked questions on whether he was referring to KKR bringing him back using the Right to Match Card. “Let’s see what happens,” he said.

The conversation, however, came to a halt as Yusuf’s son wanted to have game with him and Irfan. He would not allow his father to talk anymore, so getting ready for the friendly match at home, Yusuf sounded hopeful. “I just want to get the rhythm back. I want to play more and remain a match-winner. Rest is up to Allah to decide,” he stated.