Yusuf Pathan: See you soon, after a short break!

All-rounder Yusuf Pathan bids goodbye to international cricket. He is keen on playing the overseas franchise leagues and work as a mentor for youngsters.

India international Yusuf Pathan featured in 57 ODIs and 22 T20Is besides an active IPL career.

Yusuf Pathan wanted to feature in domestic tournaments for another year before hanging up his boots. He even started preparing for it soon after the lockdown restrictions were lifted in Baroda last year.

The 38-year-old would sweat it out in the nets at the Moti Baug, and some of the visuals of him training along with his younger brother - former India pacer Irfan Pathan - even went viral on social media.

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However, things changed over the months as Yusuf was left out of Baroda’s squad for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy forcing him to rethink his future plans.

“I have had offers from various franchise leagues across the globe for the last couple of years. But I kept putting them on hold, thinking that I would play another season and then sign off. It was not an easy decision, but I spoke to my family (brother Irfan), Sachin paaji (Tendulkar) and Gautam (Gambhir) and decided that this is the right time to stop,” Yusuf told Sportstar on Friday.

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“As a cricketer, certain things definitely hurt you. You may have a certain plan, which doesn’t work out. There are times when you get support from the association, at times you don’t. That’s alright. I do not have any regrets. I must thank Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) for all their help throughout my career. I had anyway made up my mind that this will be the last domestic season. In life, all good things have to come to an end,” he said.

Yusuf is excited for the second innings. He will travel around the world to feature in overseas franchise leagues and also play in the tournaments for the retired cricketers. 

“Every time Irfan and I would talk, we would discuss the future and wonder what would be our next step? It’s not that I will leave the game after retirement, I will continue playing. Wherever there will be an opportunity, I would like to play there and I am sure my vast experience will be useful,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf Pathan with younger brother, Irfan (left). | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO/PTI

 

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A hard-hitting batsman and off-spinner suited to the shorter formats, Yusuf played international cricket for six years and was part of the Indian teams that won the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup.

It was challenging for the World Cup winner to consider retirement. “I will be honest, it was not easy. Last year, I was not picked in the IPL auction and this year, I did not register for the auction because by then, I had already made up my mind. It was definitely a difficult call - there were many sleepless nights. I kept asking myself whether it was the right call? But then, Irfan, my family members and former colleagues helped me immensely to take a decision,” Yusuf reminisced.

Now that he is officially a retired cricketer, Yusuf wants to help out youngsters. “If anyone needs my service, I will always be available. I will be happy to help the BCA. I would like to help out the young cricketers in whatever way I can. Irfan was with the Jammu and Kashmir team for two seasons, where he played a key role in bringing out young talents. Given an opportunity, even I would like to do a similar thing,” Yusuf, who played 57 ODIs and 22 T20Is for India, said.

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While he would have liked to extend his international career a bit longer, Yusuf distinctly remembers those moments when he first made it to the Indian team. “By then, Irfan was already playing for the country. He was my senior in the team. It has been an incredible journey with the national side - my first century against New Zealand, winning the World Cup titles. It was a dream come true to play alongside Sachin paaji. A great feeling to share the dressing room with him and also play a part in winning the World Cup…”

“I will always cherish those moments. A chapter ends today and a new chapter will begin soon and I am looking forward to that. I am grateful to all my fans, who have supported me throughout. There is still a long way to go, and I hope they continue to support us,” an emotional Yusuf said, wittily adding: “Phir milte hain, break ke baad!” (See you soon, after a short break)