New Delhi: The pressure of expectation hangs around his neck like an albatross and it will chase him till the last ball of his career, feels Irfan Pathan who is hoping to return to the national side with a good show in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The time spent in wilderness, he says, has not eroded his self-belief, and the Delhi Daredevils all-rounder is still confident of making a comeback to the national side.
One of the most experienced international players in the Delhi line-up, Irfan adds that he is not swayed by pressures and is supremely confident of a return.
"Since my cricketing days for the Indian team, pressure has always remained with me. It has been there all the time. The pressure has always chased me and it will remain until I play the last ball of my cricketing career," Pathan said today.
"As long as you think of pressure it will always be there. So just relax and play your natural game. I will enter the stadium tomorrow with a relaxed mind as that will help me and my team to perform better," the lanky left-armer said.
Delhi Daredevils will play Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians at the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium in an IPL match here tomorrow.
Pathan was laid low by a spate of injuries over the last one year but the Baroda player finished his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore just in time to present his case for the IPL.
Pathan was bought by the GMR group-owned franchise for USD 1.9 million at the players` auction held in January this year.
"My fitness level is good and I am feeling fit and fine ahead of the first match. I just want to fulfil my team`s expectations and have a good IPL so as to make a comeback to the national side," he said.
Part of the Kings XI Punjab franchise till the last year, Pathan will now share the dressing room with former India teammate Virender Sehwag, skipper of Delhi Daredevils, and the 26-year-old termed the Indian opener as the "most destructive" batsman in the league.
"Virender Sehwag is the most destructive batsman in the IPL. There is no doubt about that. He will be the most feared player. After him Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj Singh and West Indian Kieron Pollard are the other players."
On his team`s chances in the fourth edition of the T20 league, Pathan said, "I will be very happy if my team reaches the semifinals or final of the tournament. We have got a young bunch of players. A very new-look team. Sehwag is the captain and he is such a great cricketer. He has the positive attitude and that will lead us to the victory."