India all-rounder Irfan Pathan on Tuesday described his comeback to competitive cricket as a God's gift and said he wanted to utilise Indian Premier League's fifth season to get better and better.
A career-threatening back injury had forced him out of action for almost two years before the 27-year-old, once hailed as Indian cricket's next big thing, returned against the touring West Indians last year.
There was no looking back since then as Pathan travelled to Australia, Bangladesh and South Africa. The Delhi Daredevils left-arm seamer thanked bowling consultant T A Sekar and coach Eric Simmons for the turnaround.
"I take it as a second innings, as a God's gift, blessings. Not many people come back after injury. I've been able to come back. God has given me a second chance to fulfil my dream. It's not just taking wickets, I'm enjoying every small, small moments after waking up. Be it going with team in the bus, practising... I'm counting my blessings," Pathan said.
The seamer said he was happy with whatever he is getting since his comeback. "I'm really happy with my performance. The number of wickets I took in Australia... Yes Bangladesh has not been good for me. But so far I'm really happy. The ball is moving, the seam position is really good. I might be going for runs a few times. But in death overs, or at the powerplays, you are bound to go for runs, but it's important to keep taking wickets.
"Only difficult part was my injury. Everyone goes through such phases. But you have to make sure you learn from it."
Pathan said he was looking forward to IPL V to hone his bowling. "IPL is going to help me a lot. I will be playing a lot more matches. I will be bowling at crucial time hopefully."
In their opener, Delhi will clash with Kolkata Knight Riders, which will also see a battle within a battle with elder brother Yusuf featuring in the KKR ranks.
Irfan described playing against his elder brother as the most difficult thing. "I was not expecting to play against him in the very first match. That's the only game of cricket in my life which I don't enjoy. This is a game where I can't handle it.
"Otherwise I would love this game. But this is what our job is. We have to be honest to our teams and make sure we do well for our teams, even though we are brothers."
"Hope a situation does not arise where I'm bowling the last over to him with 10-15 runs required. That's the only time when I think I would be thinking negative. Otherwise I will always have a challenge. I will be really happy if he scores a 50 or 100 and we go on to win the match."
Describing Yusuf as a threat, Irfan said: "The most dangerous player whom we need to be careful about is Yusuf Pathan."
"We are like normal brothers. We fight, we talk... then there are few hours when we don't talk like husband and wife. We have our boundary which we don't cross. I always feel he being elder he needs to look after me."
He said the new bowling technique was working for him. "Especially after my back injury, I needed to change my action. I was twisting a lot. Then the change has come and I hope I keep getting better with more matches.
"I've worked really hard. Sekar sir has helped me a lot. Eric also helped me a lot. It took some time to change my action. My alignment is much more straighter now and I'm able to bowl much more better line."
The seamer said he would like to take things as it come. "I don't want to be too greedy. I want to become a complete cricketer and ready to do whatever the captain wants me to. I don't want to have my own preference so that it becomes easier for the team."
Asked about marriage plans, he said: "It would be appropriate if you ask this to my brother at this point. I'm married to my game right now."