A renewed Irfan Pathan will take the field in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, this time for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The all-rounder, who has had quite a few trysts with injuries over the years, has once again worked his way back to competitive cricket after another layoff late in 2013. Now, the left-arm pacer is looking forward to bowling in tandem with Dale Steyn for the Shikhar Dhawan-led side.
While speaking to iplt20.com ahead of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014, Irfan spoke about comebacks, his new captain and sharing the stage with the likes of Darren Sammy and Steyn.
Excerpts from his interview:
You will be donning a different jersey this time around. How does it feel?
I am looking forward to it. It is going to be very exciting. The team has done well last year and there is some exciting talent there in the team as well. There are a couple of people in the team who I know very well. It’s going to be great. I have heard they are a good franchise, and the setup there is also good.
Will you be looking forward to bowling with Dale Steyn?
That’s going to be exciting, because at the moment, he is one fast bowler doing well in all formats of the game. With the amount of effort that he gives in, there is obviously something that we all can learn from it. He is always running in hard and is always prepared. It is going to be a great experience sharing the new ball with him and sharing the ball whatever the situation is. He is the key when it comes to death bowling.
What do you expect to pick from coach Tom Moody?
I have worked with him before in Kings XI Punjab. He is knowledgeable and hard working. I am looking forward to working with him again.
You will be sharing the space with Darren Sammy, another big-hitting all-rounder.
It will be great working with him. The way he is hitting the ball, there is going to be something exciting as well. There is something very special given the way he is hitting at more than 200 percent strike rate (in the ICC WT20) right now. As a team, you can’t expect much more than that. He comes from the Caribbean, and the cricketers from there are very exciting and talented. And he is the vice-captain here, so I am looking forward to the fun and exciting times ahead.
How do you see Shikhar Dhawan as a captain? And how has he evolved over the years?
I haven’t played under him so far. He had a really great last year, and that confidence will take him a long way in terms of playing. The confidence will help.
He has evolved big time. When I played against him in 2011 and then again the next year, he was a completely different player in the way he was hitting the ball. One thing that stood out was that he was always confident. But later, he was also very clear in terms of his thought process. The way he was playing, he was very clear in that. So that actually was big advantage for him; that’s how he has evolved, I think. He is clear in his shots, clear in terms of what to do, what not to do, and is getting to know his strength. So I think knowing that has helped him in becoming a better player than what he was.
Since your comeback, you have been creating breakthroughs with the new ball in the past few games. How have you worked to be so impactful?
It is never easy when you comeback from a break, but God has been kind. Things have been working out with the work I put in with my experience and with the way things have been since I am fit now. Things have picked up and the amount of hard work that I have put in is a lot as well. I am trying to make sure that I work and concentrate on my good areas. I am making sure that I keep the basics right, like the position and the basic action. I am keeping it very simple and keeping with my basics right. Those things are helping me. I am actually trying to make sure that I make good use of the new ball; that’s very important.
What are the challenges you faced while making yet another comeback?
First of all, you need to be mentally strong when you come back from a break. Because sometimes you think about how you have to do everything again. You have through go through the process all over again. The process of coming back is very difficult. You have to put in the hard yards and you have to make sure you work from zero. After a five-month layoff due to injury, the first few sessions of bowling are hard work and you don’t know what you are doing; you have to go through that process again. Mostly what takes the toll is the mental side of it. But God has been kind and I have a good family. So that helps.
Did you have to make any changes or adjustments to your bowling style?
Obviously, I had to make a few changes in my action. There are a few adjustments that I made. Trying to make sure that I don’t throw much in terms of delivery stride. And that is actually making me bowl very efficiently with less amount of effort.
My loading, which is from the back of my head, I am trying to get it in front. When you do that, it does help because then things become very simple – you are mainly focused towards the target rather than going through side-on, and you avoid putting a load on your body as well. It makes things biomechanically simpler.