'We have prepared well and played some good cricket'
Explosive all-rounder Yusuf Pathan concedes that Indian cricketers would be under immense pressure during next month's cricket World Cup in the sub-continent but they will have to avoid thinking about the expectations to come good at the event.
"You don't go into a tournament thinking about the pressure involved with it. We will be playing the World Cup at home and it's natural that people will expect us do well", he said.
"We have prepared well and played some good cricket in the past few months and we are hopeful of carrying the good form in the event (starting February 19)," Pathan said.
Image: Indian players celebrate after picking up a wicket
'I have improved a lot as a player due to Kirsten'
The 28-year-old player has been in red-hot form and has clobbered the best in the business with minimum fuss.
"I am happy that I have been able to contribute to the team's cause. I have been assigned a specific role and I try to perform that to the best of my abilities," he answered.
Talk about outgoing coach Gary Kirsten and Yusuf's voice is filled with admiration for the former South African opener --- perhaps the most popular among the three foreigners (John Wright, Greg Chappell being the other two) who have coached India.
"I have been fortunate to have got guidance from someone like Kirsten. He is a coach who will always have time for having one-on-one sessions after regular training. Even after my regular net session, Kirsten would be ready to give me extra practice.
"His (Kirsten) process of coaching and the manner in which he is able to iron out the flaws is amazing. I have improved a lot as a player due to him," he said.
Image: Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni
No comparisons please!
Asked if he will miss Kirsten, as he won't be coaching India after World Cup, Yusuf replied, "He is with us right now. That is important. Don't want to think about what will happen later."
He may surprise one and all with his ability to play risky shots like reverse sweeping a spinner for six but off it he wouldn't like to get into comparisons about his on-field efforts.
Asked which one of his two centuries 123 not out against New Zealand or 105 against South Africa at Centurion is a better effort according to him, Yusuf said would not pick between knocks which proved important for his team in different circumstances.
"You can't compare two innings which were played in two entirely different conditions. If you talk about satisfaction, it's bound to be there if you can perform for your country", Yusuf said.
"It's not that there was more pressure on me when I was playing against South Africa and any lesser pressure when I played against New Zealand at home. Both were tough situations in their own rights and I was fortunate that I scored in both," he quipped.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
'It's trying to adapt to the conditions that matters most'
There are a lot of batsmen who use lighter bats when they play on bouncy tracks just to get the horizontal shots better but Yusuf doesn't have any such preferences.
"I play with the same bat whether it's in India or abroad. More than the weight of the bat, it's trying to adapt to the conditions that matters most," said Yusuf who boasts of a strike-rate of above 115 in ODIs.
Not only his explosive batting but his tidy off-breaks and penchant for being a partnership breaker will be important on the slow sub-continent pitches and Pathan said he is working hard to deliver with the ball as well.
"I have always taken my bowling seriously and spent time on fine-tuning my skills at the nets. It's the hours of hard work that I have put in that are paying dividends," said Yusuf who has taken 30 wickets from 45 ODIs.
Image: Yusuf Pathan
'I had a great time with Rajasthan Royals'
Yusuf admitted that he would miss being part of Rajasthan Royals having represented the franchise in three previous seasons.
"I will miss the fans that I had in Rajasthan. I had a great time playing here and it was like family. But having said that I am really excited about playing in Kolkata which will give me an opportunity to play in front of packed Eden Gardens crowd. It will definitely be a different experience which I will cherish," Yusuf signed off.
Image: Yusuf Pathan