Yusuf the India allrounder, has said it is unfair to label him as a 'one-day specialist' given his performance on the first-class circuit, where he's averaged 41.38 from 46 games. Yusuf is representing India Red in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, and aiming for a comeback into the national side after missing out on the ODI series in England and the first two ODIs against the same opposition for the home series starting this week. His exclusion followed an ordinary World Cup with the bat and a poor time in the West Indies, where he averaged 10.5 from four ODI innings.
"I can play at any position. If the team management wants me to bat up the order, I am ready for it," Yusuf told the Times of India. "Whenever I spent time in the middle, I have made it count. Last year, I scored a match-winning hundred against New Zealand and then scored another hundred against South Africa. Besides, I have also scored big hundreds in Ranji and Duleep Trophy over the years. I enjoy batting for long periods."
Yusuf, who usually bats in the lower-middle order for India, played what he described as the "best innings of my career" when he smashed 210 in 190 balls for West Zone against South Zone in the Duleep Trophy in February last year, helping his team chase a record-breaking 536. He's been preferred in the shorter versions for his big hitting, but Yusuf insisted his game is also suited for the five-day format. "The T20 craze has started only now, but I have been playing first-class cricket for a decade. I would also like to play Test matches. It's unfair to label me as one-day specialist.
"There is more to my batting than just hitting. You can't succeed at the international level if you have limited strokes. I can play all round the wicket. If you analyse my hundreds, you will see I have scored runs on both sides of the wicket. I like to play aggressively and that's the way I have played cricket all my life and I will continue to do so."
Due to India's powerful batting line-up, with several of the big names batting in the top order, Yusuf said it was difficult not to adopt a risk-free approach when he came in to bat. "More often than not, one of the top-order batsmen scores big. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh love to bat long.
"When I go in to bat, I normally get five to eight overs in which I have to score as many runs as possible. You can't do that without taking risks. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. It can go either way. But I always try to give it my best shot. I won't be making hundreds everyday, but if my quick 30s or 40s can make a difference, I will be a happy man."