Sydney: Irfan Pathan said he is keen to fill in the position of the medium-pace bowling allrounder in the Indian team that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni craves for all too often.
Dhoni has often rued the absence of a medium-pace bowling allrounder who could lend balance to the side, and Pathan feels he is good enough to bowl 10 overs and hit some lusty blows.
"I think I am a bowler who can bat. If you look at me in the nets, I always make sure I give equal importance to both aspects. When I am bowling, I make sure I need to bowl length with the start, use variations and try to finish it off with death over bowling and variations," said Pathan.
"Same in batting, I make sure that I finish my batting with regular bowlers. I try to do some extra bowling, thrown by coaches, and bat extra. In a match, when I bowl I'm a bowler and when I am batting, I try to think as a batsman."
Pathan admitted that when he is able to chip in with some wickets, his batting also improves and vice-versa.
"The best thing for me would be to take wickets. When I keep taking wickets, it helps my batting and vice-versa. When I look at myself, I feel its 60-40 - 60 bowler, 40 batsman."
The 27-year-old also claimed that he is ready to bat or ball wherever his team requires him to.
"I am ready to bat wherever the team demands. It is not an issue for me. In terms of bowling as well, I am willing to bowl wherever the team wants me to, with the new ball or old ball. As long as I am playing, I am happy."
In previous matches, Pathan was once sent in at number seven, while in the other game he batted at number nine.
"I want to be ready to bat at any position as I have batted at all positions. What is important is what the team management and captain think. I want to let things come to me than keep using my mind a lot. It is better to be relaxed and let things come. Sometimes you bowl good balls and don't get wickets and sometimes you bowl bad balls and get wickets," he said.
Pathan, who has taken six wickets in the two ODIs he has played so far in the ongoing tri-series besides smashing a brilliant 47, said he does not want to keep looking at the past but wants to instead concentrate on making the most of his chances in the current series.
"You have to be realistic. What you have done in the past is totally in the past. You have to look at the current scenario. R Ashwin has batted really well...he has a Test hundred and batted well in Australia. You want to get higher but have to be realistic too," he said.
This is the Pathan's third tour to Australia, and reflecting on that, he said, "On three tours, the difference is my hairstyle. As far as playing is concerned, I have enjoyed touring Australia. This is a special place as I made my debut here and a lot of good things happened here for me."
"If we look at the last tour, it was special as we won the CB series. Very few visiting teams have won the tri-series. Being part of that team was good, as was the Perth Test."
In 2003-04, Pathan made his Test debut. On the next tour in 2007-08, he played a significant role in India's win in the Perth Test. On this tour, he has made a successful comeback.
"By God's grace, it's been good so far. What I wanted to do in this trip is to make myself a circle, where I am happy no matter what happens. Even if I play, don't play, do well, don't do well. I have realised that there are certain things that are important in life. I am trying to stay in that circle. I am not thinking about results...take it as it comes."
"Even for my short-term plans, I like to not think too much ahead, not think too much back and stay in that circle. Like in last two games, I was didn't think I would play but I played."
In his two matches, Pathan has been tried with the new ball, as a first bowling change and also bowled in the final overs, and he has stood up to the stern test. He confessed that his changed action is doing good to his career.
"I have worked with my action. I have changed it as in between there were some issues. I worked with TA Sekhar and I am able to find the areas a bit more consistently. Working with Eric Simons has also helped me. Getting help and getting the basics right is helping me bowl the yorkers and different variations. I am trying to get better. That's what I try."
"Sometimes the results come, sometimes they don't. Obviously you need the help of the right people at the right time, which I've been lucky to get," Pathan explained.
"I've realised what is my strength. I don't need to bowl any faster than that. Rather than being a fast bowler, I need to be a good bowler. If you take the example of [Nuwan] Kulasekara, he was the best bowler in the last game against us and his average speed was 125-126 kmph. If I work with my limitations and get better with that, that is going to take me forward, rather than do something I am not capable of. I have come to terms with my limitations and try to become a good bowler."
Comparing his action in 2003 with the present, Pathan said, "When I came in 2003, I had a natural action in which I used to twist (my wrist). When you are 19 and when you are 27, there is a difference. My action went wrong because of the twist. I kept going even more round arm, side on. That hurt me as I couldn't bowl in the right areas, the speed that I was bowling with 130-132 kmph. I was bowling a lot slower and the swing was coming out of the hand."
"When I went to Sekhar Sir, I worked on my action. It took 4-5 months to change it to feel what I am feeling now. It's a long and slow process. When I worked with him in 2007, I started with just walking for a week. It took a month just to get a feel of it. Then it took 4-5 months to change action."
"Because I am keeping my hand straighter, I am getting the line and length better. There is still a chance to get my action better. Now I am feeling it is coming out naturally. I am not thinking about the action during the match. If I think of action, I won't be able to concentrate," Pathan said.
He also feels hard work in the Ranji Trophy is now paying off for him.
"Playing the early matches in the Ranji Trophy gave me a lot of confidence. I enjoyed playing for Baroda this year as we had Santh Kumar as the coach. He handled the team well and his input was important. It is important to play matches. I don't want to miss matches."
Pathan said the Indian team is determined to do well the next two one-dayers.
"The whole group now only wants to win the next two matches. That's what we have come here to do. Sometimes we have an optional practice but most of the times, the guys practice hard because we want to win."